Like most people, I hate Manchester United. They make it really easy to hate them. So it came as a complete shock to me how much I love a song about the former United player, Paul Tierney. I want to hate that song as much as I do the team he formally played for, but its impossible. If a track can make me renege on my very firm belief system, then it’s got to be something bloody special. and it is.
You don’t get real stories in music anymore. It’s rare you listen to a track that takes you from A-Z, the pitfalls and high points of a person’s life in the form of a ballad. Yes, you might get it in a musical, or “funny” youtube video, but in the mainstream? Hardly ever. So when I heard “The Ballad of Paul Tierney” for the first time, I listened. And then I listened again so I could properly comprehend the real life story of an up and coming sports star that had it all, then lost it all. And then I listened again, because I wanted to know more, I wanted to take in every team Tierney got loaned out to, and the missteps that led him to spiral down the football snake. And then I listened again as I knew there was an underlying sense of hope in it all. That a man who lost everything, could still have achieved so much so young, and it is wrong to mourn the death of his career because, like the song says, “I have never been a Man U player” and I have “Never heard the fans sing”. Like I said, it takes a real talent to make me feel real emotions for a player that I should definitely not care about.
So my next step was to write to “Lonely Tourist” and say how much I loved this song, and that I have listened to the whole album now and that I want to release it so much, so other people can feel as mixed up as I do… and then I went to put the email address into the top of the page and it noticed something strange. The email address had the name “Paul” in it. “It’s a common name…” I said to myself, as I often speak to myself in this fashion. Before I pressed ‘send’ I scanned the email to make sure I took out any anti-man united remarks (most of my emails contain at least seven), you know, just in case. I pressed ‘Send’. After a few days I got a reply from one ‘Paul Tierney’ so I re-read my first email again to make sure I definitely didn’t mention trying (and failing) to buy the league, or the nocturnal activities of both captain and assistant manager. Or the player currently being investigated for match fixing, with large deposits of cash being paid into his bank account before throwing a game. I definitely didn’t mention any of that.
I didn’t have to worry too much though as it turns out it’s just a wild and happy coincidence. Lonely Tourist’s Paul Tierney probably couldn’t turn out for Crewe, but he can definitely craft songs that leave you with no doubt of his silky skills with a guitar and a pen. I’ve listened to ‘Shouting At The Weather’ a supernatural amount of times and I am confident as soon as you have this tape in your Walkman (You have bought a walkman by now right?). I genuinely believe Paul to be one of the best and brightest lyricists in the UK right now, and I cannot wait to hear future records from Lonely Tourist.
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