We were invited to spend three months in Woolton in South Liverpool recording the sounds of the area and chatting to some of the open-minded, cultured, vocally rich and intriguing characters there.
We chatted to a local woman who, during the interview, confessed to a desire to smash glass. Another old chap said he’d always wanted to spend time inside an anechoic chamber. We realised that the Church where John first met Paul was in Woolton and contacted one of the original Quarrymen. Eleanor Rigby’s grave lay in the grounds of St Peter’s and the gentleman there we talked to turned out to be the son of Liverpool manager Bob Paisley. We recorded the St Peter’s Bell Ringing Society and found a musician to rearrange the sounds into Eleanor Rigby.
Yet few of these people ever speak to each other. They inhabit separate little spaces in Woolton. We thought about social listening and the possibilities of the public house jukebox. Could we develop a series of recordings that could be experienced free of charge on a pub jukebox?
We took the woman to the Pilkington European Research Centre to understand the properties of safety glass. We took the chap into the Anechoic and Reverberation Chambers of Liverpool University’s Acoustic Research Unit to hear his own blood course through his veins in circumstances as close to silence as possible. We went to the local Spanish class and asked an old chap to read Homero Aridjis and were of course saddened when John Peel died during our three months. We found someone who kept hawks and a woman who was reading Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky at the age of 13. We spent time in a local supermarket cafe trying to avoid the rain. Trying to blend in.
We chatted to the Allotment Society and gave a one-hour lecture to The Woolton Society, playing them excerpts from William Burroughs, Thomas Edison and Chris Watson. We tried to engage the owners of the local cinema, in which you can still smoke, and the little Victorian swimming pool that the community keeps together.
In November we wanted to visit John Lennon’s childhood house in Woolton (“it’s closed until March”) and met an elderly woman who’s first line to us was “I have to tell you that I’m a snob”. Her fourth line was “Oh, yes, and I was a pilot and flew on Concorde many times”.
In late January 2005, on-site work began in Woolton installing Outhouse, a major new piece of public art by Vong Phaophonit and Claire Oboussier, commissioned by Liverpool Housing Action Trust. Described on www.wooltonouthouse.co.uk as “a place to socialise, play, entertain, it can be a classroom, market or folly.” Designed as a trapezoid-shaped glass house, 30% the size of the similarly shaped new build homes in Woolton, Outhouse is a hugely challenging, function-free, function-friendly structure.
We were given the use of Flat 59 on the 10th floor of Rydecroft tower block, one of 4 blocks in the area, for 2 days a week for the three months. W e considered the possibility that behind every flat door lay a unique story and audio thumbprint. T hree famous Liverpool jukeboxes: The Swan (Wood Street), John Lennon’s bootleg CD and Eric’s. We went to see the Eric’s exhibition at Museum of Liverpool Life two weeks into the residency. On the ground floor was a free jukebox with Liverpool-related bands. We selected Reward and let the strains of Strange House In The Snow permeate the Museum.
We recorded and wrote and asked people to write and recorded people reading the writings. These were arranged into the ’36 compositions for a Woolton jukebox’. Maybe one day they’ll all meet in the same social space to share these stories.
Included on this CD: Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 1 Movement 2, Lynthia Doran, Graham Paisley, Nick Willasey, St Peter’s Church Bellringers, The Woolton Society, Scots John, Woolton Woods, The Jeweller’s Shop by Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), Gary Seiffert, Acoustic Research Unit at The University of Liverpool, Geoff Topham, Brenda Tillston, Tesco shopping trolley, Pilkington European Technology Centre, Linksview Spanish Class and the sandblasting of Dovercroft. With thanks to Brenda Millington, Kerry Peacock & The Allotment Society, Ged Hines (Guinness Trust), Kevin Nolan & the staff at Linksview, Lyn Kane at the Swimming Baths, Rod Davis (The Quarrymen), John Pettitt, Paul Kelly, Pauline Vass, Andrew Heathman (Liverpool HAT), Bob Birch, Philip Webb and the team at Pilkington PLC.
CD produced by Paul Draper, Dead Frog Studios.
Alan Dunn & Jeff Young, Liverpool, November 2004 - February 2005
This is an audio CD, cantaudio013, March 2005.
Edition of 500
Supported by The Liverpool Housing Action Trust