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A Northern Man: Theme

Life in and around a Lancashire town

Bolton NO LYRICS or chords for this one since it's a piano instrumental with no words. So I'm using the space for some information on the above painting which decorates the cover of the CD "A northern man" (reproduced by permission of Bolton Museums, Art Gallery, and Aquarium, including the Archive & Local Studies Service, Bolton Metro).

The painting

THE PAINTING is "Bolton from Queen's Park" by the artist Samuel Towers, painted in about 1895. Samuel Towers was a Bolton man. In 1881 he was living at 38 West Street, Sharples, Bolton, with his widowed mother, younger brother Hilton and sister Elizabeth. Samuel was then 28 and a foreman tailor, as was his brother. I don't know how Samuel acquired his artistic skills but he became quite well known and exhibited widely including at the Royal Academy from 1884. He died in 1943.

If you visit Queen's Park in Bolton today and stand at the raised paved pathway about half way up the rise of the land from Spa Road (where the statues of local dignitaries are), you'll be able to work out more or less what Samuel was looking at when he painted the picture - with a little bit of artistic licence about viewpoint and perspective.

If you're familiar with Bolton you'll pick out what I assume is part of the framework of a gasometer on the extreme right (as you face the painting) , with the gasworks offices on Spa Road at the end of the path leading across the centre of the picture. The Town Hall clock tower is more or less central with St Paul's Church, Deansgate, slightly in front of it and to its right. The mill chimneys have long since been demolished (many by the late Fred Dibnah) and the smoke has cleared.

The Disputed Gateway Hilton Towers, Samuel's brother, was also an artist. The drawing (above) from the Bolton Journal and Guardian 26th September 1886 is attributed to him and relates to a dispute about a right of way over Winter Hill near Bolton in 1886 - which is the subject of the song "Will you come o'Sunday Morning" by Teddy Ashton. I've created a new tune for this and the song will feature on a future CD, having already established itself as an audience singalong with Auld Triangle at Westhoughton Folk Club.

The theme tune

THE PIANO theme which opens the CD picks up the main motif of the the title song "A northern man" which appears as the final track - sort of book-ending the CD as it were.

The piano theme is played in A major to allow it to lead comfortably into the next track "Farewell to the plough" which is also in A (albeit in a modal variety - neither major nor minor). The song "A northern man" is guitar-based and starts in Eb since it follows "Scout Road", a piano-based song which is also in Eb and ends on the subdominant chord of that key - Ab. (Am I making sense here?) Anyway, it's all designed to make the transitions between songs easier on the ear.

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