london pubs videos

MUSIC: Pub Crawling Blues

We were tipped off to this by a documentary about British blues music Lenny Henry made for Sky Arts.

It’s from a 1969 LP called Black London Blues which is pretty great from start to finish and is available on Spotify, iTunes, and to buy on CD.

And, yes, that is Ram John Holder as in Pork Pie from the 1990s sitcom Desmond’s, who turns out to be a very interesting bloke.

I had ten pints of bitter at the volunteer of Gloucester Place.
I’m pub crawling… I’m the Ram.
I’m pub crawling… I’m your man.


Who Drank My Beer? (1952)

We heard this song by Dave Bartholomew on a compilation of blues and R&B songs about booze that Bailey’s Dad was listening to over the weekend. It’s a sad tale of a bloke who goes (we think) to the bog and, when he comes back, finds that someone has finished his pint:

Who drank my beer while I was in the rear?
Who drank my beer while I was in the rear?
Point out that low-down moocher —
I’ll dislocate his future!

Beer history pubs quotes

Manchester Jazz Pubs, 1950s

“When I lived in Manchester in the 1950s, the pubs were  bursting at the seams on Saturday evenings as fans got their weekly ration of jazz… In the Napoleon Inn, you had to ask the landlady to leave off playing the drums for a few minutes so she could go behind the bar and pull you a pint of Chester’s Fighting Mild.”

Harry Giltrap, CAMRA’s PINT magazine, 1982

Generalisations about beer culture opinion

Intense Beer for Adolescents?

Tents by Stuart Heath, from Flickr under Creative Commons.

This week, academics at the University of Cambridge published research into how taste in music develops over the course of people’s lifetimes.

As teenagers, people desire ‘intensity’, according to Dr Jason Rentfrow:

Adolescents’ quest for independence often takes the shape of a juxtaposed stance to the perceived ‘status quo’, that of parents and the establishment. ‘Intense’ music, seen as aggressive, tense and characterised by loud, distorted sounds has the rebellious connotations that allow adolescents to stake a claim for the autonomy that is one of this period’s key ‘life challenges’.

In early adulthood, the research suggests, people begin to develop an appreciation of ‘contemporary’ and ‘mellow’ music as they seek not to stand out, but to fit in, and find intimacy with others.

Finally, in middle age, people become ‘sophisticated’, becoming keen on jazz and classical music; but, at the same time, seek something less ‘pretentious’ and so develop ‘an interest in country, folk and blues’.

The University’s press release also includes this statement:

The explosion in music consumption over the last century has made ‘what you listen to’ an important personality construct – as well as the root of many social and cultural tribes – and, for many people, their self-perception is closely associated with musical preference.

Increasingly, we think that is true of food and beer, too — for many, they are part of popular culture as much as they are refreshment or sustenance.

The success of Brewdog and ‘craft beer’ more generally in the UK is partly down to tapping a market among young people who might previously have rejected beer (mild-mannered, session-strength, subtle) outright.

The good news for more traditional brewers is that those young people are drinking beer and, in years to come, will likely put aside the brashness of Brewdog in favour of classical, unpretentious, folksy beer. (You can look back at 6+ years of our blog to see some evidence of this process taking place, though we’ve always been pretty fuddy-duddy.)

But what about when brands and brewers grow up and perhaps lose their rebellious image? In the world of music, the coolest band is usually one no-one over the age of 20 has even heard of.

Beer history beer in fiction / tv

What did John Lennon say about beer?

The Beatles in the pub.
‘Two lagers and lime and… two lagers and lime, please.’ Help (1965)

Nev, who recently made 800 posts on his long-running beer and music blog, mentioned the other day, in passing, a quotation from John Lennon that we’d not previously come across:

The price of fame is not being able to go to the Phil for a quiet pint.

‘The Phil’ is the Philharmonic, a pub in Liverpool. We love the Beatles almost as much as we love beer and pubs, so we liked this a lot, but we’ve also been fretting about sources a lot recently. Aware that 99 per cent of beer quotes, just like statistics, are either made up or inaccurate, we decided to look into it.

The fact is, we can’t find any reference to where or when Lennon is supposed to have said the above. Some websites quote other websites. Most just say that he ‘famously’ said it, or that he said it ‘once’ to a reporter. The earliest reference in print, according to Google Books, is the Let’s Go guide to Europe from 2000.

That doesn’t mean he didn’t say it, but we can’t help wondering if the attribution ought to be a clever brewery PR man or pub landlord. Chris Routledge had this to say on the subject:

Did Lennon talk about beer, pubs or pints at all? We did find this interview from 1971 which includes a classic bit of Lennonian belligerence:

As kids we were all opposed to folk songs because they were so middle-class. It was all college students with big scarfs and a pint of beer in their hands singing folk songs in what we call la-di-da voices- ‘I worked in a mine in New-cast-le’ and all that shit… mostly folk music is people with fruity voices trying to keep alive something old and dead. It’s all a bit boring, like ballet: a minority thing kept going by a minority group. Today’s folk song is rock and roll.

We think he’s trying to wind up Nev and Phil, and pre-emptively taking a pop at CAMRA two months before they even existed. He certainly manages to give ‘pint of beer’ a particularly sneering spin.

Astrid Kirchher, a friend from the Beatles’ time in Hamburg in the early sixties, recalled, in the 1996 Anthology TV series, that, when Lennon drank beer as young man, it was because it was cheap, and a particularly effective accompaniment to Preludin pills (uppers). In the accompanying book, also talking about Hamburg, Paul McCartney says the he was the last to make the move (the upgrade?) to taking drugs, having said, until then: ‘Oh, I’ll stick to the beer, thanks.’

If you happen to know the interview where Lennon mentioned ‘the Phil’, or have come across him or any Beatle saying anything else about beer or pubs, we’d love to know. You might also enjoy this longish piece on rock music and pubs which mentions Ringo.