A Song For The Grovers
Matters more trivial permeate my conscience today dear reader. You see Iam suffering the precise opposite of the dreaded writers' block, in that I have an urge to pen something but the square route of sod all in which to pontificate on. I mean, there is some pre season friendly against some kind of Austrian XI tonight. (I presume, by this, it will be XI footballers we will be facing and not eleven illustrious Austrians. Though the thought of Walcott skinning Schwarzenegger on the right handside whilst Hitler and Mozart look on disconsolately from the touchline is an amusing reverie). However, it's hardly sufficient to produce alengthy dissertation on. Thoughts extend to the season ahead, but it's not really appropriate to begin assessing our chances when the squad is not yet fully assembled and certain situations have yet to reach adefinitive conclusion. Blatter and Platini, aka Tweedle Deum and Tweedle Dee, have managed to save some face of late by keeping the lower part oftheir faces shut. Real Madrid are still fondling their wooden spoon through a media fed cauldron of shit. So what else is there really to think about?
Which song should Arsenal emerge to the pitch to of course! Last season Arsenal alienated most with the choice of Elvis Presley's 'The Wonder of You.' I have to admit it grew on me as the season drew on, but there again tumours grow on a person, it doesn't necessarily make them a very good idea. This is an altogether more taxing question than it originally appears. I'm sure shrouded in the parochialism of one's own music tastes, one could formulate an entire set list for our boys to run out to. (Personally, I'd love to hear Rage Against the Machine's 'Wake Up' blasted over the PA system as the player's line up in the tunnel. But I've a feeling it might ostracise a good portion of our fan base)! The song which the players emerge to has to be of the right pitch and tone to lift supporters and make them want to stretch their vocal chords in support of the team. Sunderland used to tap into this sense of theatre brilliantly by blasting Mozart's 'Requiem' over the speakers at a barely tolerable volume, the screeching violins not only had the home support upstanding in militaristic readiness, but drowned out any noise that might be emanating from the away enclosure. It was pretty intimidating too. Manchester has a rich musical history on which to draw and United can often be heard taking the pitch to 'I Am The Resurrection' or 'Love Will Tear Us Apart.' Whilst Citeh like to emerge to 'Roll With It', another defiant, fist shaking anthem to appeal to the typical footballsupporting demographic.
In our case, London's musical history is less well defined, it's too big a place to really pinpoint within the bounds of a three minute pop song.It's also far too bohemian and cosmopolitan. Besides which, all the best Northern bands end up becoming absorbed by London A&R men anyway.'London Calling' by the Clash has been so overdone (I know it's currently played at the Den, Stamford Bridge and usually Upton Park for London derbies). Whilst London has a multitude of famous musicians, Bowie, Jagger, Rotten, Strummer, they somehow belong to something bigger than Geography. I was born in the same hospital and the same delivery room as David Jones (David Bowie to the plebs), but still do not feel as though he ostensibly belongs to me in any sort of way. In short, it's hard to think that any supporters of a London club could feel the way that City fans do about the Gallaghers or United the Stone Roses. (Though another of my local clubs, Crystal Palace amusingly adopted the Dave Clark Five). Nor do we Londoners have a mutually inclusive taste. This means we have to press slightly more populist buttons. (As well as being careful not to play songs by artists whose affiliation is with any serious rival. I mean, coming out to 'Gertcha' by Chas 'n' Dave would be a massive PR gaffe in more ways than one).
This would entail finding a song that, whilst anthemic and generally well known by 60,000 supporters, could not err too readily on the side of cheese. Whether you like to admit it or not, I know there's a good chance you know the words to 'Dancing Queen', but I reckon we would be treated to a few more William Gallas sit ins were he forced to lead his troops into battle to Abba. Hip hop is, fine genre though it is, a definite no no. The over 40 demographic is the most presently visible at the Grove, plus hip hop restricts audience interaction. (Though the sight of rows of greying old men, 'giving it some shoulder' to Mos Def's 'Mathematics' appeals greatly). But as well as being accessible and anthemic without being ridiculous, the song has to contain just enough oomph to get everybody going. Trickier than it sounds. We could all don lighters and join arms to Bob Marley's 'One Love (Get Ready)', but the net result might not be 60,000 fans ready to roar their boys onto victory. In fact, it's more likely we would forgive the referee all his bad decisions with a dismissive 'meh, everybody makes mistakes.' Songs about brotherhood and kinship do not really lend themselves to the partisan sporting arena.
This is where Chelsea have pulled off a neat trick with the Harry S.Allstars instrumental before kick off, a catchy tune which can easily be embellished with a firm cry of 'Chelsea!' at the end. So what is this mystical tune we can use to rouse supporters from their slumber pre match and bring those in Club Level rushing from their buffet lunches in their seats? The song Arsenal typically leave the pitch to is Curtis Mayfield's 'Move On Up', which is exactly the sort of uplifting toe tapping genius we should probably arrive into the fray to. At all costs we must avoid identikit tosh such as 'Let Me Entertain You' or Fatboy Slim's 'Right Here, Right Now.' It must be quirkier and more idiosyncratic than that, like Birmingham's adoption of ELOs 'Mr. Blue Sky', something we can ostensibly call our own. 'In Between Days' by the Cure ticks a lot of the boxes, but it is a song about heartbreak, so again a no. Simon and Garfunkel's 'You Can Call Me Al' is possibly too camp.
Public Enemy's 'Show Em Watcha Got' is tempting and uplifting enough, but sails too close to the hip hop winds, despite being a skit. The answer has to come from soul music, an old Stax or Atlantic record, soul cuts through enough age barriers. Soul has a a big enough cultural relevance for modern hip hop and R n B, whilst older supporters are likely to be familiar with their days dancing to Northern Soul 45s. For me, something like Stevie Wonder's 'Uptight' or 'Superstition' or 'Knock on Wood' by Eddie Floyd, bass driven groovers that could get the most arthritic of knees out of their seats. (Any older supporters who think that constitutes a dig at them should be aware that I suffer osteo arthritis in my knees!) Anyways, I know a number of music lovers frequent the forum, so I'd appreciate your suggestions and I'll see about trying to communicate these suggestions. As Elton John once sang, I know it's not much, but it's the best I can do.LD.