You’ll Never Walk Alone

liverbird7

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of a storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet, silver song of a lark.
Walk on, through the wind,
Walk on, through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart,
And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone.
When we read or sing these words, what do we think of first?  Chances are, if we are a football supporter (and even if we are not), we will think of fans singing their hearts out and waving their scarves to and fro above their heads.  This has always been one of my favourite songs, sung many a time at family Hogmanay parties, weddings and any occasion to have a good sing-song.

 

Carousel1

You’ll Never Walk Alone was written by songwriters Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers for their Broadway musical, Carousel, originally produced in 1945.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the story:-

In a Maine coastal village toward the end of the 19th century, the swaggering, carefree carnival barker, Billy Bigelow, captivates and marries the naive millworker, Julie Jordan. Billy loses his job just as he learns that Julie is pregnant and, desperately intent upon providing a decent life for his family, he is coerced into being an accomplice to a robbery. Caught in the act and facing the certainty of prison, he takes his own life and is sent ‘up there.’ Billy is allowed to return to earth for one day fifteen years later, and he encounters the daughter he never knew. She is a lonely, friendless teenager, her father’s reputation as a thief and bully having haunted her throughout her young life. How Billy instills in both the child and her mother a sense of hope and dignity is a dramatic testimony to the power of love.   

http://www.rnh.com/show/20/Carousel%20synopsis

So, how did this great song come to be a football anthem?  There were many cover versions, but one of the best known was released by Gerry and the Pacemakers, one of the many famous Liverpool bands, in 1963 and it hit number one in the UK pop charts, retaining its place for four weeks.  Gerry Marsden, lead singer of the Pacemakers, presented a copy of the single to Bill Shankly, the manager of Liverpool Football Club  He loved it so much that it was adopted as the team’s anthem, sung before kick-off at every Liverpool match at Anfield.  It became so popular as a football anthem that many other teams adopted it too, including Celtic, Borussia Dortmund and F. C. Tokyo.
shankly_gates
Shankly Gates commemorating Bill Shankly, former Liverpool F. C. manager

 

Returning to the musical, Carousel, here is the final scene where Billy’s ghost returns.  As stage/film productions go, this scene, for me, is up there with all the great weepies, such as Jack drifting away to his death in Titanic, the Von Trapp family escaping over the mountains from the Nazis in The Sound of Music and, of course, when Lassie limps home to her master in Lassie Come Home.  Okay, the film clip might seem a tad sentimental to us these days but whether the song is sung by football fans, a pop diva or a gospel choir, it will always be inspirational.

 

 

2 thoughts on “You’ll Never Walk Alone

  1. Love the photo of the red Liver Bird. It was years before I realised that the song had come from a musical. Always thought it had been made up by the Kop ! You mention Bill Shankly, one of his great quotes was :-

    “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the red Liver Bird too, Alan and, yes, I always thought You’ll Never Walk Alone was simply a football anthem and had no idea that it originated elsewhere. I thought, what clever football people to think up such a beautiful song! As for Bill Shankly’s quote … if football is as serious as that, I think I’d better start looking into it … a steep learning curve ahead for me! 🙂

    Like

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