Today’s song is ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ which was recorded by ‘Gerry and the Pacemakers’. This song is a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, ‘Carousel’. In the second act of the musical, Nettie Fowler, the cousin of the protagonist Julie Jordan, sings ‘You'll Never Walk Alone’ to comfort and encourage Julie when her husband, Billy Bigelow, the male lead, falls on his knife and dies after a failed robbery attempt. The song is repeated in the final scene to encourage a graduation class of which Louise (Billy and Julie's daughter) is a member. The now invisible Billy, who has been granted the chance to return to Earth for one day in order to redeem himself, watches the ceremony and is able to silently motivate the unhappy Louise to join in the song.
The song is also sung at association football clubs around the world, where it is performed by a massed chorus of supporters on matchday; this tradition began at ‘Liverpool Football Club’ after the chart success of the 1963 single of the song by the local Liverpool group, ‘Gerry and the Pacemakers’.
The song has been recorded by many artists, with notable hit versions made by Roy Hamilton, Frank Sinatra, Roy Orbison, Billy Ecksteine, Lee Towers, Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, Johnnie Cash, Andy Williams, Olivia Newton John, and Doris Day. Progressive rock group ‘Pink Floyd’ took a recording by the Liverpool Kop choir, and inserted it into their own song, ‘Fearless’, on their 1971 album ‘Meddle’. Indeed, the song has been sung at so many important events around the world.
The greatest success of the song was by ‘Gerry and the Pacemakers’ and peaking at Number 1 on the ‘UK Singles Chart’ for four consecutive weeks. Sung by Liverpool fans in 1963, the song quickly became the anthem of Liverpool Football Club and is sung by its supporters’ moments before the start of each home game with the ‘Gerry and the Pacemakers’ version being played over the public address system.
According to former player Tommy Smith, lead vocalist Gerry Marsden presented Liverpool manager Bill Shankly with a recording of his forthcoming cover single during a pre-season coach trip in the summer of 1963. "Shanks was in awe of what he heard. ... Football writers from the local newspapers were travelling with our party and, thirsty for a story of any kind between games, filed copy back to their editors to the effect that we had adopted Gerry Marsden's forthcoming single as the club song." The squad was subsequently invited to perform the track with the band on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ with Gerry Marsden stating, "Bill came up to me. He said, 'Gerry my son, I have given you a football team and you have given us a song'."
I was up at 5.00am this morning to arrive at ‘Leeds Infirmary’ by 7.30 am where I will have a life-saving operation to remove all the deep-seated cancer growth in my forehead that two previous operations failed to accomplish. My operation will involve me having a general anaesthetic (always dangerous given my heart condition and age), plus an additional type of anaesthetic (for reasons I know not). In order to be able to excavate all the cancer growth, the consultant fears that she may have to sever the nerve to my right eyebrow, that will leave me sporting the look of a dodgy pirate. I will also need a larger skin graft taking and could also require a course of radiotherapy afterwards to mop up any residue cancer cells remaining. As long as they are able to get it all out, they can do as much ‘mopping up’ as they like. If my eyebrow nerve have to be cut, the consultant says she will reconstruct my face and re-attach the nerve, if possible, in a subsequent follow up operation. So, fear not that my life-long beauty of face will be too marred, and besides, I think I’d look okay in a black eyepatch anyway, if needs be!
Since I was diagnosed with a terminal blood cancer type of Leukaemia in early 2013, I have been operated on a further four times for four different types of cancer in three different areas of my body. I also have the possibility of a rectal cancer but will have to wait another week before I discover the results of my recent biopsy on March 21st. when I next visit the consultant at Airedale Hospital to be informed of the situation.
March 21st is an important day in the joint lives of Sheila and me. It is the day that my father was born, and it is also the day when Sheila’s first husband Anton was admitted into hospital as an emergency patient 12 years ago, but sadly died of complications. Let us hope that today is a reason to celebrate this day once more?
Although I have nearly died a couple of times over the past two years (besides having had a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ placed on me without the knowledge or consent of me and my wife), I remain positive. I know that I am not alone in my struggle and am immensely strengthened by my belief in God, the daily support of my wife Sheila from dawn until dusk, plus all the emotional support and good wishes of my family, and the ongoing prayers of hundreds of Facebook friends from across all five continents of the world. With this support, good wishes and daily prayers of all concerned, never has there been a man who felt he had so many companions walking alongside him, as I feel today. Without this support, thoughts and prayers of all of you, I fear I might have lost the protection of my guardian angel, who has looked over me kindly ever since my earliest fight for life at the age of 11 years of age.
All my life I have been the most independent of men; a trait I undoubtedly take from my late father. All my life since the age of 18 years, I have been cast in the role as a leader of men and women (shop steward at age of 18 years, Mill Manager at the age of 25 years, Probation Officer at the age of 30 years, and specialist Group Worker, Relaxation Trainer, Anger Management Founder, Stress Management Consultant, Marriage Guidance and Bereavement Counsellor, and Author during the years since).
Over the past six years, I have had to do two things I never envisaged in my wildest dreams I would do. First, I had to psychologically accept that with my deterioration in walking mobility that I would occasionally need to be pushed around in a wheelchair by my wife, whenever the distance travelled was too far for me to walk. Secondly, I have gradually had to become more dependent on my wife for so many vital aspects daily that enable me to function with the maximum of dignity and a semblance of ‘normality’.
The importance of these changes in my daily life has gradually led this once proud man allowing himself to become more dependent on others; particularly my wife, Sheila. In these changes, I have found something that I would never have previously thought of ever discovering, let alone reconciling myself with: how comforting to know that ‘I NEVER HAVE TO WALK ALONE’ in anything I do or any place I go, or over any hurdle I am required to jump in the future. I wish everyone who feels alone learns this truth today: ‘you never have to walk alone’ in any journey of life you undertake, unless it is by choice!
There are so many people who effectively support me through their daily prayers and expressed good-will that they are already emotionally accompanying me on my final journey. I have always felt loved ever since the moment I was born, but never to the degree that I feel loved today. Indeed, I now feel more loved than any man or woman has a right to feel, and I certainly know that whatever the future holds for me during the immediate years ahead, that I will never again feel to be walking the final leg of my journey through this life alone. Thank you for being there for me.
Love Bill xxx