Sunday, April 29, 2012

Matchstalk tears

I had a very odd experience today. I was on the way to yoga this afternoon, flicked on the radio to a show playing down the top twenty from this time in 1978 and this song came on. Within seconds I was in tears.

( This is my first attempt to embed a video using blosgy so just in case it doesnt work the link is

Please ignore Noel Edmonds and his apalling joke at the beginning!


Now I often do get an emotional response IN yoga classes. But not driving to them!

Some may say it is a natural reaction to the dreadfulness of the music. But it was not that. I am well known for not having highbrow musical taste and am well inured to such criticisms.

Later, hanging in Down Dog I decided it was one of two things. Or both maybe.

I have been spending time with someone close to me who is very excited about impending parenthood. This has got us talking about our childhood memories. Whilst we never discussed the paintings of LS Lowry I certainly remember the song and being shown some of the paintings. In hindsight that was probably because of this song which was number one when I was eight. It is possible this was the way I first learned about art. They originate from not far from where we live - Salford and Ancotes - are inner city areas of Manchester and places I have driven through to get to and from work on many occasions. So maybe it was a sort of flashback thing.

Two weeks ago I began to work in my home town again after years of working anywhere but. I have been feeling a strong sense of localism so, although Salford is maybe half and hour away maybe it was still close enough to touch a sense of belonging/memory that has been simmering underneath my consciousness?

But more, I think it was a sudden clarity about what can be the sheer simplicty of making art if we choose noto to complicate it.

"He took his brush and he waits, outside them factory gates and he waits to paint them matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs."

As the song tells, he was not exactly well received at the time but now there is a rather spectacular theatre complex and art gallery named after him and showing his work in Salford. And a five star hotel down the road also called The Lowry. And all because he perservered painting his matchstalk cats and dogs because he liked them.

The Lowry Theatre
I am curious... Did this song make it to the USA? If so, did it lead to the belief that we all wear cloth caps? And, Working Mum if you are reading... I have vague recollections that our school might have done something relating to Lowry about this time. Do you recall?



Diane Perin Hock said...

I've never heard the song before at all. So if it made it to the US, it never made it anywhere near me. Perhaps I am too young? (No audible scoffing, please.)

Perhaps this is like that song that made your mother dance around her living room to entertain us when we visited?

Terry said...

I don't believe the song ever made it to the US. If it did I never heard it. But I enjoyed it and the paintings as well. I think paintings of everyday life have a very special appeal. They are both art and historical record. These look very charming.

Working Mum said...

You may not realise, but we hadn't yet met when we were 8! (I was 9 when we moved house). The school I was at then took us on a trip to see Lowry's pictures at the orignal art gallery near Salford University and we did our own versions, so maybe you did something similar?

The song did resonate with me as well because Lowry's pictures always seemed to be around when I was growing up. My grandparents and aunts had prints up in their houses and my mum and dad have a limited edition signed print (which my borther gets in their will!) so I guess I was familiar with the images and the social history.

Don't know if that helps explain the emotional response. Or maybe it's just thinking back to a lost childhood. Does "Grandad" by Clive Dunn do the same thing for you? ;)