"Life In A Northern Town" as written by and Gilbert Alexander/laird-clowes Gabriel....
A Salvation Army Band played
And Children drunk lemonade
And the morning lasted all day,
All day
And through an open window came
Like Sinatra in a younger day,
Pushing the town away

Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.

They sat on the stoney ground
And he took out a cigarette out
And everyone else came down
To listen.
He said "In winter 1963
It felt like the world would freeze
With John F. Kennedy
And The Beatles."

Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.
Ah hey ma ma ma
All the work shut down.

The evening had turned to rain
Watch the water roll down the drain,
As we followed him down
To the station
And though he never would wave goodbye,
You could see it written in his eyes
As the train pulled out of sight

Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.
Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.

Lyrics submitted by karnasaur

"Life in a Northern Town" as written by Nick Laird-clowes Gilbert Alexander Gabriel

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Life In A Northern Town song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentThis song is - pure and simple - about Nick Drake, a songwriter who died in 1974 (possible suicide on anti-depressants of all things!)

    If you haven't listened to Drake's work, and you like Dream Academy, you should give a listen. It may not be as polished, but it's got 'the stuff'. Other artists directly influenced and affected by Drake's work include, The Cure (their very name comes from a Drake song!), Duncan Sheik, Howard Jones, and American Music Club.

    Nick had is own small following - and it was small enough that he would often play out in the open of his small Northern England town of Tanworth-in-Arden. Here, Nick Laid-Clowes of the Dream Academy imagines what it must have been like to have sat down and listened to him.

    Nick Drake never 'waved goodbye', and he never knew how successful he'd be some 30 years later, but he influenced a LOT of musicians and here the Academy pays homage to his memory.
    ctlizyrdon September 10, 2007   Link
  • +5
    General CommentThe Dream Academy wrote it with Drake in mind, no question, but it's resonance is far broader, isn't it?

    What was Britain like in 1984/85 when it was recorded and released? Thatcher, miners' strike, and so on. It looked back on 1960's not so much nostalgically, as a time when something broke and nothing was ever the same again. Places once full of life and hope maybe, but now there's no more work. So what are you left with but "the stony ground". It could be about any working class, industrial town really.

    Incidentally, I wish I could find find the 'hidden' lyrics; those Nick Laird-Clowes sings towards the end when the chanting and drums are in full swing... "Make it easy on yourself..." (Drake again)

    It always hits me square in the heart this one.
    Kestrel1971on January 19, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's a good song. It's about Nick Drake.
    karnasauron March 09, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI also grew up in NE Ohio in the 70s, like another contributor here, and this song always reminded me of home, and hauntingly, of my grandfather, who also grew up in NE Ohio in the 1920s and 30s. I was unaware of the reference to Nick Drake; I'll definitely check him out. I looked up the lyrics this evening, as we are expecting a winter storm to roll through Ohio this evening.

    I often feel that songs like this that have melodies that affect people so profoundly must be very old. Perhaps the melody was around thousands of years ago and it resonates in our cells. Like so many others, I always think about the past when I hear it - perhaps because of the lyrics, but even without them, they create such a longing in my heart that I feel I've known this song in past lifetimes!
    daris5150on January 31, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Memory@ctlizyrd I lived (born and grew up) in Tanworth-in-Arden .... It is not a town ...it is a very affluent and sleepy little village about 15 miles South of the centre of Birmingham and not a Northern Town as the song suggests. (Unless you live in London and therefore anything North of Watford is considered The North..lol). I don't have any recollections of Nick Drake singing out in the open there, to small groups of followers (nor do others I know, living there). In fact by the time he was at boarding school and then University, he rarely visited or stayed home. The song (and the video) really belies the fact that he came from a privileged upbringing. "Far Leys" his parents home in Tanworth-in-Arden is a large country house, not your 2 up, 2 down terraced house that you find in most Northern Industrial towns.
    SirMuttleyon November 26, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of my favs from the 80's. Simply amazing.
    fixxxer327on November 16, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust like the title says, it's a song describing what life was probably like in a rural northern town in the 1960s. In 1963 it seemed like the innocence was gone when JFK was killed and the "British Invasion" came. The singer is nostalgic for those days.
    kupo75on January 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat song...
    Josegaon February 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe last post says it all
    northeastnostalgiaon December 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is why I love this site. This has always been one of my favorite songs of all time and now I know why. Now I have some homework to do about Nick Drake.

    As a person who returned home after 10 years to my snow NE Ohio town this song also hits me in the gut every time I heard it. It reminds me of my past and what this town used to be like when I was growing up in the 1970s. It's simply a beautiful song and now I know it's also a beautiful tribute.
    kegbot1on March 26, 2009   Link

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