Manchester, Beautiful South: Paul Heaton’s kicking is long overdue

Knowing that Paul Heaton of Beautiful South lives in the next neighbourhood to mine gave me the creeps even before I’d heard his latest warble, Manchester . You can read the lyrics here, but just look at the artwork; a bus station that’s not even in Manchester.

Here we have two very old buses, services 33 and W3, decked out in a livery that dates the pic to between 1974 and 1981. The W3 is no more, but the 33 continues to serve Wigan. So that’s where we are; an admittedly grim fringe of the county of Greater Manchester at its mid-to-late 1970s worst.

It’s no coincidence that Brian & Michael’s supposed tribute to LS Lowry is a contemporary of this photo. They sat at number one for two weeks a couple of years after the death of one of our greatest artists and alleged that, ‘he painted matchstalk [not matchstick] men and matchstalk cats and dogs’.

Paul Heaton probably thinks he’s ever so clever; embracing a negative outdated image of Manchester and saying that what you hate is what makes us great. But just as Brian & Michael destroyed Lowry’s reputation by portraying him as a mere populist, a Jack Vettriano if you like, he just reinforces old stereotypes.

Anyway. If Paul Heaton’s so fond of grim northern towns, why doesn’t he slink off back to Hull?

38 thoughts on “Manchester, Beautiful South: Paul Heaton’s kicking is long overdue

  1. much how I felt on reading Paul Morley’s eulogy for ye goode olde dayes in Observer Music Monthly on Sunday. Partiuclarly hated that they had the classic ‘Joy Division on Hulme bridge’ photo and then one of PM on the same bridge now, except that the PM photo is cropped so you don’t see the nice new flats that’ve replaced the old it’s grim up north black and whites on Bonsall Street. Tho I was pleased to learn that it’s all thanks to PM’s crusading music journalism of the 70s that Manchester is undergoing its current renaissance.

    Sorry I will take my bitterness off to I Hate Paul Morley et al dot com and leave your blog in peace

  2. You don’t get shut of Heaton so easily. It took us years to get rid of him, his collection of drab cardigans/Adidas leisure wear and the dozens of copycat lead singers that followed in his wake. Keep him, please.

  3. Hi Steve.

    Actually it is Lowry that is overstated. :-) There’s more to it. Yes I hate commercialised jingoism in all its forms.

  4. I realise that there are many people with piss poor musical taste in this country, this poster obviously being one of them, but when a high profile person/band help to put your city on the map via song, it is my view that this should be appreciated. The fact that the Beautiful South have been consistantly popular and succesful over 17 years is no coincidence. They are tremendous (even more so live,) write their own songs and play all their own instruments which seems to be becoming a rareity these days. To this poster my advice is this, fuck off and listen to the shite talentless cacka that you obviously appreciate Don’t make comment on stuff you know fuck all about, i.e. true talent. You go back to your synthisysed shit sunshine.

  5. I just love how this Stephen Newton is a fecking bus-spotter! I thought being a trainspotter was bad, but this is beyond the pale.

    Heaton has set up house in Greater Manchester, but with the likes of you around, once the kiddies are older, I bet he actually will go back to Hull. But he won’t be slinking off.

  6. Dear Stephen, apparently you haven’t taken your time to really *listen* to some lyrics of The Beautiful South. You should do that and then find out that Paul Heaton is a genius when it comes to lyrics. You should be honoured to have such a great talent in your town.

  7. Just to pick up on what someone said above, the bus station pictured used to be over the road from Manchester Cathedral, just off Deansgate.
    So OK you’re technically right as it’s Salford but you should get your facts right mate!
    Sorry Heaton fans, you’re wrong again

  8. You arsehole. You dont deserve to live on the same planet as Paul Heaton. Go lie in front of a moving bus.

  9. Actually Heaton does write good lyrics and I even went to see the BS at Wembley once. But he’s so depressing. Maybe he should write some chirpy songs about M&S and Harvey Nichols……

  10. Stephen, you’re obviously a complete cock-head as noted by the comments here. Suggest you move somewhere without an internet connection. Paul Heaton rules!

  11. Heaton has been the best lyricist for the last 20 years. Just listen and appreciate his works, particularly the album stuff that most don’t hear. Then again Stephen much of it is probably a little beyond you.

  12. Just googled “Paul Heaton” and stumbled across this site. Lot of morons writing (typing) ill informed rubbish. Paul Heaton is a wordsmith as good as Keats and Yeats. 25 years from now, after his cremation, his genius will be truly appreciated and honoured. Best album: Miaow, “Hold me close”.
    Best solo work: Poems, “And youth
    The stream so much wider
    Thought you could slow down the flow
    If you drank and you drank

    Middle age
    Still unable to find her
    The words on the stone that you skimmed
    So heavy it sank”
    Beat that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Couldn’t put “Storm”‘s comments better myself! What sort of sad sack starts banging on about the “number blah blah blah bus” in an attempt to have a dig at Heaton? Paul Heaton, like myself and everyone else who has written in to his defence, drives cars so we don’t have to give a twat about what number bus is featured on the cover. The very fact that the London show sold out within minutes of the tickets going on sale is proof of Heaton’s success. I rest my case. If you want to have a dig at someone, why not comment on John Barnes’ attempt at rapping?

  14. in response to your rant about Paul Heaton going back to Hull,
    He isnt from Hull. hes from Berkenhead

  15. PD is a star. Ever since he was a Smirks fan – chucking up his barley wine (or whatever) in their dressing room sink. He learnt what he knows at the feet of Simon Milner (b Sale lives Chorlton) and those Manchester Smirks … whose new (well OK, greatest hits) album is out soon on Sanctuary.

    His first proper gig in Manchester – ignorning the Wilde Club – was at international 1 as a housemartin and promoted by moi.

  16. Sorry, but Paul Heaton is one of the greatest songwriters in British- nay, WORLD- history. Anyone who disputes this should look at the fact that everyone knows at least one tune by TBS and can relate to something he has written.

    I’m only 21 and think that Paul’s writing and singing beats any of the rubbish in our charts nowadays. Even his more dated stuff, like Song For Whoever, would still merit a top-10 place.

  17. back off from paul heaton,hes a nice fella….hes generous,talented and one of the lads…hes very popular and has got bags of money.unlike you moaning suckers who hate him.
    so why dont you tell amugge rthat lives in manchester to fuck off back to where they come from?
    johnny h the roadie

  18. Was searching for Paul Heaton interviews and stumbled across a few sites and forums where people have taken it upon themselves to have a pop at him for the shittiest of reasons. The guy has an opinion like everyone else and it might not be appreciated by everyone but that’s life. He’s still one of the greatest lyricists ever and people should remember and focus on that instead of being so rude and negative about him.

  19. I think what us Heaton fans have to accept is that hes an extremely talented songwriter (and singer) and his lyrics will be too intellectual for some to understand, the fact is he writes in a different way to those churning out chart topping, mindless crap and couples his hard hitting lyrics with upbeat melodies..in my opinion the best singer/songwriter of our time

  20. ok so i a few years late to this rant!
    why is people get so worked up about lads who make good not to mention a few bob singing songs about places round manc
    paul made a few people laugh when he name checked the likes of salford swinton etc
    his music and lyrics are not your throw away pop shite but on the whole give the brain something to think about
    i bet he would just love the fact he has made you move your fingers wasting loads of time and energy to pen your rant
    i bet you are the sort of person thats believes all the shit in the news of the world etc
    get a life mate if you dont want to hear the stuff change your radio station ( i sugest key 103) they play the same mind numbing crap hour after hour you will just love it ! just one question are you a man city fan coz u sure sound like a winging blue shit to me…..

  21. So ok i am biased after following The Beautiful South all over the country and beyond for many a year and now following Paul Heatons solo career. But please whoever this joker Stephen Newton is you need to get on the bus pal and actually listen to some of his lyrics – whether you will understand them is a different matter though.They are aimed at people who obviously have alot more intelligence than yourself.

  22. ps. Stretchy – SIX easy points this season. Obviously you have good taste in music but not in football.

  23. i’m from hull and heaton has put hull on the map, and contributed to music and songwriting on a whole. He has sold 15,000,000 million albums just with the beautiful south, not to mention the housemartins. So my view is don’t slag of someone until you can do better, and i don’t think many can. So commenting on an album cover and slagging off Hull is petty. The only people who can slag off Hull is people who live with in it. I live in Ardwick in Manchester at the moment and to tell you the truth Manchester isn’t that better!

  24. I would hardly describe Paul Heaton as ‘Talented’. His music is at best tepid, similar to mundane lift music.

  25. Apart from actually not really wanting to be murdered, I see most threads here as anti-lowry and anti-manchester and not anti-heaton. It seems as though you’re attracting the wrong sort of fan. Just like I once did.

  26. Mr Newton, you represent the Lowry map of Manchester so badly I could write an album of misinformed hits about you.

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