S(w)ing When You're Winning
There has long been an association between football and rock and roll. Terrace anthems (all-seater stadium anthems just doesn't have the same ring) were generally sampled from the latest songs at the top of the hit parade - for those under forty (TUF), the hit parade was a bit like an iTunes chart but you weren't forced to purchase the latest Apple weapon of mass destruction in order to buy a single. In this way a dirge like 'Ferry Across the Mersey' can still be heard sung in that appalling accent at Liverpool home games. Sham 69 tried to jump on the bandwagon with their generic 'If The Kids Are United'. Ian Dury must surely have been singing about Alan Hudson or Stan Bowles in 'What a Waste'. And what could be cooler than walking out at Stamford Bridge to 'Liquidator' by the Harry J Allstars? (That's a rhetorical question; nothing could be cooler than Liquidator).
From the late 60s to the early 80s it seemed as if Top of the Pops was hardwired into every Football League ground in England and to most League of Ireland em, stadiums (David Essex's 'Hold Me Close' is still a regular at Shamrock Rovers games). For all you TUFs, Top of the Pops gave popular beat combos the chance to mime in front of a TV audience. It also featured Pans People, a group of semi-undressed ladies performing an "interpretive" dance to the latest hits - a cause of sweaty palms and uncomfortable underwear to a generation of spotty male teenagers.
And what did cricket have? Not a lot, unless you played or watched in the West Indies where you could be accompanied by reggae, oil drums or maybe some serious dance music with the Trini Posse. To be fair, the BBC cricket coverage had the most sublime theme tune, 'Soul Limbo' by Booker T and the MGs. A song that could be replicated by empty beer cans - Tetleys Bitter at Old Trafford came closest to the original tone. There was the Duckworth-Lewis Method concept album from Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh last year. But I'm disallowing concept albums on the basis that I grew up in the 70s and had to put up with "progressive rock" concept albums - I'm looking at you Yes and you Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Apart from that cricket has been ill served by popular music so to fulfil my contractual obligations by lazily copying real journalists redress that balance, here are some songs with cricket associations.
'Master Blaster' - Stevie Wonder. Although Stevie name checks Bob Marley in this song, how could it be about anybody but Viv Richards.
'Misty Mountain Hop' - Led Zepplin. At first glance it could be an homage to Bagnelstown but a closer look at the lyrics reveals a cricket team in need of the expertise of a Bill Frindall - "Crowds of people sittin on the grass with flowers in their hair said / 'Hey, Boy, do you wanna score?'"
'Should I Stay Or Should I Go?' - The Clash. Every batsman's dilemma. The faintest nick behind, the fielding side go up, the umpire isn't sure. Are you an Adam Gilchrist or do you play in the Fingal area?
'Up In Arms (Dub)' - King Tubby. The reaction of the fielders if the above isn't the Australian ex-wicketkeeper.
'Lets Get Drunk' - UK Subs. Pertinent advice on what to do the night before a big game.
'Where Did The Night Go?' - Gil Scott Heron. What you might ask the morning of that big game.
'I Think I'll Call It Morning' - Gil Scott Heron. This should be subtitled 'A Groundsman's Lament' - "I'm gonna take myself a piece of sunshine / And paint it all over my sky / Be no rain... / Be no rain...". Heron is obviously a frustrated cricketer (is there any other kind?). He approaches the microphone with the languid grace of Clive Lloyd, displays all the timing of David Gower and can attack with the speed and aggression of Dennis Lillee.
'I Wanna Be Sedated' - The Ramones. Written for Johnny Bell (Pembroke) after a season of captaining the 5th XI - "I can't control my fingers, I can't control my brain"
'Bullets' - Compton Cricket Club. The first, and possibly only, Hip-Hop World-beat cricket rap - "From bullets to balls / From gats to bats / From the streets with concrete / to grass and mats / we're playin' cricket".
'Run Overdrive' - Civic Civic. For that all too seldom moment when we're in the groove - no words needed.
'Approach To Danger' - NWA. This is straight out of the MCC batting manual - "Approach to danger, don't move / Its hard to predict what will happen next".
'You Have Caught Me' - U-Roy. Adam Gilchrist again.
'Pretty Vacant' - The Sex Pistols. It would be easy to say that this is dedicated to umpires everywhere. But a quick look at the lyrics soon sorts that out - "There's no point in asking, you'll get no reply / Oh just remember I don't decide / I got no reason, its all too much / You'll always find us out to lunch".
And the worst ever cricket song? Its got to be 'Dreadlock Holiday' - 10CC. A reggae-lite abomination. If you've any nominations of your own write your own blog stick them in the comments below.