The Manchester Calling album is broadly inspired by commercial expansion in the city Paul Heaton calls home. Said Heaton: "Manchester is now being turned into a business center for the rich, which I can't stand. If there's a theme to the record, it's anti growth, anti greed, against the continuous tearing down of old buildings and sticking up soulless offices, and the disappearance of local accents on TV, along with the creeping spread of Americanese."
The title track is a dystopian soundscape featuring multiple spoken voices in different accents, some Heaton and some his friends, passing savage sentence on a city.
Half the size of London, slightly less than Brum Half the population with head lodged up its bum Now property developers look down on Northern scum And that's Manchester Calling
Heaton explained to Q magazine: "I think Manchester's on a slightly different path now. By that, I mean maybe what's happening to the city center. I see it as just rampant capitalism. It's got a different swagger now to the other swagger that I quite like in Mancunians. It's not the swagger of Liam Gallagher. Now it's a swagger of big business."
John Owen Williams produced the song along with the rest of Manchester Calling. A longtime Heaton collaborator, Williams produced both Housemartins albums and the previous three Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott long players.
"The Way" by Fastball was inspired by the story of an elderly couple from Texas who drove to a nearby family reunion and kept going. Fastball's bass player imagined them taking off and having fun like they were young. The story didn't end well: the couple was later found dead after they crashed in a canyon.
"White "Christmas" was so popular that Bing had to re-record the song five years after the original 1942 recording because the original masters had been worn out from all the pressings. This is the version that became a holiday tradition.