This could be Rotterdam or anywhere
Liverpool or Rome
'Cause Rotterdam is anywhere
Rotterdam cube houses, Netherlands
Rotterdam is in the Netherlands, but according to songwriter Paul Heaton of the Beautiful South fame (not to be confused with the New Beautiful South sans Paul Heaton), Rotterdam could be anywhere, anywhere alone. And to be fair, this is true. If you are alone anywhere in the world, it doesn't really matter where you are, because you are, in essence, alone.
It is also increasingly easy to become jaded these days, as the almost quantum leaps of technology leave us reeling and trying to play catch-up in a world gone awry. It is all too easy to lose our way and lose touch with the people we love, and this is when "blonde and beautiful become so dull and dutiful" to our jaded eyes.
With lyrics like "And no one knows for sure if they've done more here than they ever would do in a jar," it is a very caustic take on life and reflects writer Paul Heaton's frame of mind at the time. In fact, the entire album Blue is the Color
has been hailed by critics as being one of the darker albums by the group, which didn't stop its songs from becoming some of the group's most popular.
Whilst writing the songs on this album, legend has it that Paul Heaton used to catch the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam to escape the loneliness, which is contemplated upon in the song. In short, the song explores how loneliness can follow you no matter where you are, no matter whether you are in a crowd of people or truly alone.
Not everyone knows what to make of the Beautiful South, and most people just stay away from such a crazy mixture of music. It was the New York Times
that said it best, however, when they described the group as having "music by Mary Poppins and lyrics by Charles Manson." Enough said.
Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, Netherlands
And truly, this applies to the song "Rotterdam (or Anywhere)." If you just go along with the song without truly listening to the lyrics, you will find yourself thinking what a sweet, laid back song this is. Then you listen to the words and it dawns on you that such a satirical and cynical take on life just shouldn't gel together so nicely with such sweet and uplifting notes. Only, it does. And now you find yourself listening more carefully to the words, and you find yourself drawn more towards it than you would have thought possible.
This was probably the reason why the Beautiful South gained such a core of followers. The songs were a truthful, caustic, satirical and cynical look at life all at the same time, but all of this was imparted with such good humor that it became hard not to like them.
And on an interesting side note: If you ever wondered why the band was called "The Beautiful South" well, it will interest you to know that this, too, was a good example of the dry wit and sarcasm for which the band is renowned.
Owning to a dislike for southern England (in fact, all, barring one member of the band, hailed from the north of England), and a desire to get "macho" men to say the word "beautiful," Paul Heaton once revealed that the name of "The Beautiful South" was born. And the rest, as they say, is history.