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For nearly three years, I've been working on a new musical play called The Last Ship.
The inspiration for it really stemmed from my album The Soul Cages that I wrote in 1990, which depicted the landscape of my hometown, Wallsend, in the Northeast of England. My early memories are of the Swan Hunters shipyard at the end of the street, where some of the largest ships ever built were constructed; the imposing presence of ships, towering over the roofs of the terraced houses we lived in, represented a very potent symbolism for me. I watched thousands of men walk down our street every day on their way to work on these mighty ships. My great-great-grandfather was a master mariner, one of my grandfathers was a North Sea pilot, another was a shipwright, and my father served his time as an engineer. So my family over the generations has always been connected to the sea and ships.
Eventually, the economic downturn and lack of orders for new ships led to the closure of the yard in Wallsend. While writing for The Soul Cages, which coincided with the death of my father, I used the demise of the shipyards where I was born and raised as a metaphor for mortality. Using this material as a starting point, I began to wonder if there was a story to be told, with characters and a plot, set against the surreal industrial environment of my hometown.
Check out the full blog over on the Huffington Post website.