Friday, May 07, 2004

REMEMBER, BOYS, THAT YOUR FOREFATHERS DIED: Well, the FA would have had to have worked hard to come up with a worse idea for the official England song than the Twisted X Nesbitt/Cockernee affair, and clearly the boys at Lancaster Gate have been up late into the night to rise to the challenge. The Farm's Altogether Now, remixed by DJ Spoony. With a Liverpool's Boy Choir on it. What's curious about the choice isn't that (after Ian Broudie and Ian McCulloch) this seems to confirm only Scousers are allowed to write England songs now (Ned Murphy, your time is coming...), but that the song seems to be totally inappopriate. Peter Hooton accepts his country's call with the good grace of a man who's been living on No Frills Cornflakes for a few years now: "It's a fantastic honour to have our song chosen to be the official England anthem." But he also makes reference to the original point of the song - it was about the so-called 'Christmas truce' football match from World War One also immortalised in yet another scouser's video, Paul McCartney's Pipes of Peace): "The fact that the greatest game in the world had momentarily united the soldiers was the reason I wanted to capture the spirit of that day in the lyrics."

And this is where we really start to have a problem with the plan - because Altogether Now was, as we understood it, a song about war that drew on a football match, not a song about football that mentioned the war. And the lyrics seem to support the way we remembered it:

Remember boy that your forefathers died
Lost in millions for a country's pride
But they never mention the trenches of Belgium
When they stopped fighting and they were one

A spirit stronger than war was at work that night

December 1914 cold, clear and bright
Countries' borders were right out of sight
When they joined together and decided not to fight

All together now
All together now
All together now, in no man's land

All together now
All together now
All together now, in no man's land

The same old story again
All those tears shed in vain
Nothing learnt and nothing gained
Only hope remains

All together now
All together now
All together now
In no man's land
All together now
All together now
All together now
In no man's land

The boys had their say they said no
Stop the slaughter let's go home, let's go, let's go


Now, without wanting to second guess what the football scores will be, we can see why a song begging for an end to the slaughter and an early return home might be apt, but we just don't see how the song really fits: it's a contest between countries, so "countries' borders right out of sight" seems to be a total contradiction of what the competition is about. And that's without the queasy feeling of a song that originally paid tribute to millions of men killed in a nasty, Jingoisitic war is being turned into a sing-a-long for thousands of sunburned jerks to bellow in a nasty, Jingoisitic fashion.


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