Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Cotton milling machines in the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry
I have lived almost my whole life under the shadow of a smoke stack, not of a factory but very much like one.  So I feel an affinity to the working class factory workers.

 The song "My Little Town" by Paul Simon from his album (one of my all-time favourite albums) Still Crazy After All These Years (1975) so beautifully describes the depressing feeling of a factory town, especially to a young person.  Although I never felt the same hopelessness about my town, so many of the images were similar to my experience and the poetry of the lyrics still impresses me.

In my little town
I grew up believing
God keeps his eye on us all
And he used to lean upon me
As I pledged allegiance to the wall
Lord I recall my little town
Coming home after school
Riding my bike past the gates of the factories
My mom doing the laundry
Hanging out shirts in the dirty breeze
And after it rains there's a rainbow
And all of the colors are black
It's not that the colors aren't there
It's just imagination they lack
Everything's the same back in my little town

In my little town I never meant nothing
I was just my father's son
Saving my money
Dreamin of glory
Twitching like a finger on a trigger of a gun

Nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town (repeated)

More lyrics:
 Here is a nice version Paul Simon singing this song (unfortunately without the harmony of Art Garfunkle).  If you prefer to hear the album version, please click on this link which I was unable to embed. It shows scenes of a factory town in West Yorkshire.


Speaking of West Yorkshire, that is very near the imaginary town of Milton where Victorian age Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South was set. Her novel explored the interrelationships between factory worker and master, rich and poor as well as male and female roles. Her masterful work was made into the BBC's miniseries of the same name starring Danielle Denby-Ashe and (of course) Richard Armitage.

Here is a beautiful slide show by lafillenoir from North and South set to the same soundtrack used in the miniseries.

Here is Margaret's first vision of the cotton mill where she encounters Mr. Thornton at the end.  It was made by lucifmello using the beautiful soundtrack by Martin Phipps.

I was listening to Bruce Springsteen's album Darkness at the Edge of Town not long ago and when I heard the lyrics to his song Factory it inspired me to make this video.  Unfortunately it is very rough around the edges. I don't yet know how to make my own clips so the ones I used were quite low quality.  That's what I get for being impatient and in a rush.  Really I just wanted to put some images from North and South together with the song.


tyme_4_t said...

Richard Armitage AND Bruce Springsteen....Oh Phylly you just made my day! ;)

Traxy said...

Makes me think of Dirty Old Town ... just because of the factory theme. :) I grew up in an industrial town, but the factories are all on one side outside of the town so no factory gates to pass or chimney shadows to see.

Avalon said...

Great post, reminds me October Sky. It would very hard to have to live a life where there was no advantage or way up.

Phylly3 said...

@tyme_4_t-- Oooo! You like that combo too? I am a very big Springsteen fan. I am sure to talk about him again sometime! :)
@Traxy-- Wonderful song! I must have heard that tune before but it wasn't very familiar so I forgot about it! What a great suggestion! I like the Pogues's version very much too! Thanks for the link!
@Avalon-- I love that movie! I haven't seen it in a long time. Early Gyllenhaal! :)

Anonymous said...

Phylly, thanks for reminding me of that great Simon and Garfunkel song. I love their music. And good job on the video. I'm trying to learn how to do it too. The challenge I have is that I bought lots of stuff via iTunes so I haven't figured out how can see them in Handbrake and make clips. I only have N&S, V&D and RH on DVD. I'm waiting for Spooks to wrap up and then I'll buy the whole boxet. :)

Phylly3 said...

@calexora -- I love Simon and Garfunkle too, but this song was from Simon's solo album, (which still had Garfunkle singing backup). There are some other songs on that album I am really crazy about (not necessarily the hits!).
I downloaded Handbrake, but I haven't a clue how to use it! It looks waaaay too complicated for me. I am too impatient to bother with it!
I have lots of DVDs now so I should be making my own clips. I started using Elvira's tutorials (which are great), but I ran into some problems, and like I said -- I am very impatient -- so I just wanted to get that Springsteen song out there and I plan to remake the video when I figure out what I am doing!
Thank you for your encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Did you know that Paul Simon just released another album in the last weeks? Critics are saying it's his best work since Graceland. I bought it and the first few numbers are really excellent, I think. But I was listening to it in my office and a student asked, "who's that?" and I said, "Paul Simon, you probably never heard of him," and the student said, "Simon and Garfunkel?" and I said, "yes, but he had a whole solo career after that." I honestly think his solo work was a lot better, though posterity will of course remember him from his S&G days.

Phylly3 said...

@Servetus -- I just love Graceland! Amazing and original music style. I must admit I don't like ALL Paul Simon's solo attempts. I bought one album awhile ago after Graceland that I can't even listen to. But this new one sounds intriguing. I wasn't aware of it so thanks for the news, I will have to check it out!