true faith : GIRL AFRAID

by • November 5, 2014 • UncategorizedComments (8)2300

LOCAL HEROES – Me Mam says “ Eeh!  Did you see that Sting in the news? He’s got
this play on Broadway about the shipyards, our shipyards. I’ve never liked him with that daft yoga stuff and his tree hugging ways but he must be a clever lad and well, he is one of us. I wonder if the Americans understand what it’s all about”? “ I wonder Mam”?

Well I had seen it and I did wonder myself how a New York audience would take Geordie lads musical and what did I really know at all about the man and musician Sting.

Gordon Mathew Thomas Sumner (Sting) born in 1951 in Wallsend to a working class Girl2family. Sting grew up in the shadow of the Wallsend shipyards. The eldest of four children he attended St Cuthbert’s grammar school. He was obsessed with music and would often sneak into nightclubs like the Club A Go-Go.  Where he watched the likes of Cream and Jimi Hendrix perform. Artist’s that inspired and influenced his later career. He actually qualified as a Teacher and worked at St. Paul’s first school in Cramlington for 2 years.

However,  he is best known as the principal songwriter and lead singer of the band The Police. He’s had major success with the band as well as his solo career. Varying his musical style over the years, with elements of rock, reggae, jazz and classical. Sting has an impressive CV both at home and internationally. He has been awarded  Brit awards, Golden Globes, an Emmy, inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. So I think that answers the “how has he pulled it off question,” about his musical.  His list of charity work is enormous,  Amnesty International, the Rain Forest  Fund,  he’s a patron  of the Poverty Alleviation Charity, Aids Foundation and the Red Cross to name but a few.  He supports endless local charities and recently gave a personal donation of an undisclosed amount to the Friends Of Tynemouth, out door pool fund. Supporting the drive to, regenerate the 1920s lido. So he is a local hero after all. His accent has faded and he has strange ways but the evidence shows he’s still a Geordie and cares about his past. Hence the making of The last Ship.

The Last Ship is a marrying of Stings boyhood memories of growing up in the ship Girl3building industry in Wallsend. The story as described by critic is set in the seafaring town of Wallsend in the North of England. (Somebody tell them)!! The close knit community, where life revolves around the ship yards and hard working men construct magnificent ships with great pride. The main character dreams of a different future and leaves to travel the world. On his return he finds the shipyards future in grave danger and his childhood sweetheart engaged to someone else and so the story unfolds. The critics have heralded it a triumph. I wonder if Newcastle will get to see it, I hope so.  So Sting I will let my Mam know that you’re still a proper Geordie lad really and I’m sure she will be interested to learn about all you’ve done for our glorious city and region.

We have a wonderful history in this region and lots of places and people to be proud of, especially our musicians.  Some leave and only come back to visit but their hearts seem to always remain here.This week I will play some favourite tracks I like from 5 local heroes. Hope you like them and please feel free to tell me your favourites.


Message in a Bottle” is a 1979 song by The Police, from their second album, Reggatta de Blanc. Written by Sting; the song is ostensibly about a story of a castaway on an island, who sends out a message in a bottle to seek love. A year later, he has not received any sort of response, and despairs, thinking he is destined to be alone. The next day, he sees “a hundred billion bottles” on the shore, finding out that there are more people like him out there. Rolling Stone ranked it number 65 on its list of the “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.

I’m not a huge Police fan but I do like this song.


James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix, born November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) born in Seattle 1942. I know isn’t a Geordie well he wasn’t born here but, some may say he’s an honorary Geordie. He was discovered in 1965 in the USA by Chad Chandler of The Animals who brought him to England to make him a star. Chas loved the song Hey Joe and was convinced he could make it a hit single with the right artist and he was right. Hey Joe was a massive hit for Hendrix and put him firmly on the musical map in the UK.  I didn’t know this until recently and was gob smacked to find out this Geordie connection. I asked my older brother who said he had seen The Jimi Hendrix Experience in the 60s at the Club a’Go-Go in Newcastle. Apparently Jimi was often seen busking on Heaton’s Chillingham Road. Now that is amazing. An untimely death caused a short career span but enough to make a lasting legacy.

Hey Joe is a popular American song from the 1960s which has been performed by a lot of artists in different standards. The most famous being the Jimi Hendrix experience, recorded in 1966. I love this song and Jimi Hendrix’s version is the best.  I wished I had been living on Chilli Road back in the 60s.


You can’t get more local heroes or Geordie than LINDISFARNE firmed in 1968. Folk rock band originally called Brethern.  Lindisfarne are named after the island off the Northumberland Coast. They were signed in 1970 and went on to release no fewer than 14 albums over the decades, with the odd change of line up. The biggest selling album was Fog On The Tyne which was released in 1971. They obtained a huge following from their live concerts and built a reputation for being one of the top festival bands. Lindisfarne broke up in 2004 with the full line up performing a final concert in their beloved Newcastle.

Run For Home was a huge hit for Lindisfarne, I Love this song. As a proud Geordie I always think of my beautiful city and its people when I hear it. My cousin who lives in New Zealand says when he hears it, he always feels as if he wants to come straight home, see the bridges and hear familiar voices. Always get ‘dust’ in my eye when I play it, funny that.


Roxy Music a British art rock group formed in 1971 by Bryan Ferry, who became the group’s lead vocalist and chief songwriter. Despite an 18-year gap between activity Roxy Music never officially split up. Ferry frequently enlisted many Roxy members as session musicians for his solo releases.   Although the band took a break from group activities in 1976 and again in 1983, they reunited for a concert tour in 2001, and have toured together intermittently since that time. The band was highly influential, as leaders in the more experimental, musically sophisticated element of glam, as well as a significant influence on early English punk music. They also provided a model for many new wave acts and the experimental electronic groups of the early 1980s. Ferry and co-founding member Eno have also had influential solo careers, the latter becoming one of the most significant record producers and collaborators of the late 20th century.

Bryan Ferry was born in Washington, Tyne and Wear, England into a working-class family.  Ferry attended Washington Grammar-Technical School (now called Washington School) on Spout Lane from 1957. Ferry became a pottery teacher at Holland Park School in London however his move was with the real intention of pursuing a career in music and  he formed Roxy Music

Angel Eyes was released as a single in August 1979, it was the third single to be taken from their album Manifesto and peaked at No. 4 in the UK. The single was a disco re-recorded version of the album track, which was more rock sounding, and (just like the previous single “Dance Away”) was also released as an extended 12″ dance mix (still a relatively new format at that time).

I have always been a Roxy Music/ Bryan Ferry fan through my brother. I think he fancied himself as a bit of a Ferry look alike. This is one of my favourite songs of his.


Pet shop boys and English electronic pop duo, Neil Tenant and Chris Lowe. They have sold over 50million records worldwide and are listed as the most successful duo in UK music history by the Guinness book of Records. Their achievements are astounding.They met in an electronics shop in London and recognised a mutual interest in dance music. Their original name was West End because of their love of London’s West End but later changed it to Pet Shop Boys, derived from friends that worked in a pet shop in Ealing.

Neil tenant was born in North Shields it shortly moved to Brunton Park in Gosforth shortly after Neil’s birth.  He attended St Cuthbert’s catholic school. Tenants songs ‘ This Must Be The Place I Waited Years To Leave and It’s A Sin,” refer to his early life in the catholic school and the strict up bringing. In 1975 he completed his degree in London and worked for various magazines editing, the most famous being the Smash Hits yearbook 1982, 83 and 84 editions. Whilst at Smash Hits an opportunity arose to interview The Police, whilst there he met Bobby Orlando who he admired. He mentioned he was writing songs and Orlando was interested. Orlando subsequently recorded and produced the Pet Shop Boys first single West End Girls

With lyrics concerned with class and inner city life. West End Girls was a massive hit, reaching number 1 in the UK and America in 1986. Neil Tennant explained the role of new sampling technology on the track and how every single sound came from the newly introduced E-mu Emulator keyboard.

This is my favourite Pet Shop Boys song. At the time it was a really different sound and the inner city life lyrics and of course I am a West End Girl myself.


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8 Responses to true faith : GIRL AFRAID

  1. john taylor says:

    Watched sting perform the last ship with backing from jimmy nail late night on bbc4 a while ago and although not really a sting fan was blown away by it. Great story telling through music and pride at his hometown shows through. Catch it on iplayer if you can

  2. Greeny's Guitar says:

    Never saw Hendrix busking in the east end but I would like to submit a couple of my choices.
    Apache by The Shadows. Probably the greatest pop/rock instrumental ever ( except for Albatross and The Supernatural oh aye and The Stumble)
    Sultans of Swing (live version) by Dire Straits. Mark Knopfler went to the same secondary school in Gosforth as my best teenage mate. He says as a kid Knopfler was always trying to be one of us but I can’t remember him.
    Back in Black by AC/DC. One of the great rock voices and he’s 100% geordie. Fuckin’ brill.
    Friday Neet (Gannin’ to the Toon) by David Baird. Never met him but he is obviously a lyrical wizard “A nearly hoyd meesel off the Byker wall
    when a saw wor lass with a puff from Darras Hall” and thats just the first line. Sheer brilliance. Play that funky geetar kidda.
    Because you included a half born mackem I’m having a full one. The Eurythmics. Dave Stewart is a very good songwriter and I’ve never been able to choose between Who’s That Girl and Sweet Dreams are Made of This.
    Music by John Miles.I know scores of people who hate this song but for some reason I love it. Sing loud when pissed.
    I’ve got to include the original and still the best Geordie band. Road Runner by The Animals. This was their best live song . The studio version just doesn’t convey the excitement of their live performances.
    The Hendrix association with the toon was a bit tenuous so here’s another.
    Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks. First job when I left school in the sixties was flogging stuff in a small city centre shop. Late 1964 the rest of the staff were out on lunch when two lads came in. I recognised them straight away as Ray and Dave Davies and we had a great chat. I was so star struck I forgot to get their autograph but saw the gig that night at the City Hall

  3. Alan says:

    Saw the Police in about ’78ish at the Mayfair ballrooms (a venue very much worthy of an article of its own!) supported by the Cramps who blew the Police away.
    Personally think they peaked with Roxanne and went steadily downhill thereafter. Do do do dah dah day (sp?) is an abomination of a song and sits quite comfortably with Queen’s Radio Ga Ga and Blur’s Park life in being some of the most irritating ditties ever produced!

  4. Guy HW says:

    Completely with you on Bryan Ferry and PSB. I’d easily put Ferry and Roxy Music ahead of Bowie, who I’ve never got. PSB were mid-80s icons, esp Chris Lowe. Violence, Religion, Injustice, Death.

    Hendrix obv very influencial and its a good link to Tyneside.

    Not sure on either Lindisfarne or Police though fair play to Sting on The Last Ship.

    I’d gone and put Prefeb Sprout in there with the mighty King of Rock and Roll.

    Another excellent piece!


    Well here’s away
    First of all I love this now regular feature it’s quite often like the author has been rifeling my music collection.
    As they say roond my way ” yiv canny taste in tunes though but ”
    Northern soul, Motown Reggae man it’s just chinka plonk reading ya patter.
    Well anyway here we gan my tuppence worth
    I don’t have much time for ya man sting scenty bottle accent and all ‘that fair play he’s done a play about the yards, but I just cannit dee wiv him
    Jimmy Naill’s Big River is just simply a work of brilliance and he holds a canny tune when he’s singing it anaarl
    Eric Burden and his mates made a huge impact on many others as well as me I am sure
    Meet me on the corner a timeless classic and neck and neck with the afore mentioned Run For Home for me as the best from the Holy Island Minstrels
    A personal connection next with a band who supported U2 , toured America and as legend would have it were the last We astern band to play in Iraq many years ago. Who are them then you may well ask ?
    A band of gingely guitar heroes who had appearances on The Tube (remember that one) and starred in their very own Beatlesque roof top tribute on the now no longer multi storey car park Gateshead landmark. ( I think U2 copied them when performing on the roof of the Clarence Hotel in Dublin) Well the Band were ………… Hurrah yes that’s them Hurrah check them out on you tube if you don’t know of them or like me are of an age where sometimes its hard to remember when you have one foot in the bath, if you’re’ getting in or getting out. Anyway just as an aside one of the lads in the band has past some talent on to his son, who fronts a band often seen plying their trade in the Clooney no less ( and outside Windows in the arcade ) they are the Kentucky Cow Tippers
    As tenuous links go here’s one for you ……..
    Luke Kelly
    Yes Luke Kelly late of the Dubliners no less, is noted as starting his singing life in a Folk Club in our beloved city whilst working in the area. If anyone is unfamiliar with his work and indeed truly beautiful voice, may I be so bold as to suggest a you tube adventure searching for such wonderful sensual songs like Raglan Road and a little known Phil Coulter number, Scorn Not His Simplicity.
    I could go on, but I won’t just one thing off topic but check out Massive McGregor giving his spin on the masters Redemption Song
    Peace from Dublin

  6. Green Tony says:

    Girl, I’m afraid that you neglect Tyneside’s best ever band The Animals who were the soundtrack to the City in the early/mid 60’s. Must do better pet.

    • Pat Hughes says:

      Yes! I was living in the south then so The Yardbirds were my Animals – sort of. Love them both and there was a sort of link as their manager persuaded The Animals to seek the bright lights.

  7. Ben says:

    Greeny’s guitar mentioned dire straits and this made thing of a guy called Ivgor Presnyakov who does acoustic covers of various bits and pieces (YouTube the name)…. Just my opinion, mind, but if you search out his acoustic version of ‘brothers in arms’ it’ll make the hairs on the back f your next stand up.

    Would also like to give an honourable mention to mark knopfler and ‘fare thee well Northumberland’ on the local theme.

    And, while we’re going local, I’m currently living in west Africa so can’t miss an opportunity to plug these guys… An oldie but a good one!

    And this one… I love her voice

    Apologies if i’ve hijacked the comment section with African music. Top column, though.