Our first two playlists of the month were about fathers and fatherhood and mothers and motherhood. From now on they get less relevant, starting with this month: songs about sports. Just because I like sports really. There are too many on the playlist to write about every one, but I discuss a few of my favourites, and you can listen to the full playlist on Spotify below.
It’s surprising that Belle & Sebastian, one of the feyest of all bands, are the only band to have two songs on this sporting playlist. ‘Stars of Track and Field’ was the first song of theirs I ever heard, and I’ll always have a lot of time for the line “And now he’s throwing discus, for Liverpool and Widnes.
The first and only time I saw Kraftwerk live was at Manchester Velodrome, whilst four olympic cyclists cycled round the track. So the link between the band and the sport is very well established in my mind. ‘Tour De France’ is their most well known, if not only, track that touches on the subject.
I’m a Leeds United fan (the admission of which may well lose me some readers as we are perennially one of the least popular teams in the country). My peak years of fandom were the early to mid-nineties, and to my surprise there are two very different songs about Leeds players of the era. ‘Strachan’ by The Hitchers is an indie slow-burner about the Leeds midfielder of that name, whereas ‘Gary Speed’ by Lars Vaular is, of course, Norwegian hip-hop. Both tracks mention numerous Leeds players, bringing back, for me at least, many memories from my supporting past. ‘Gary Speed’ even starts with a sample from former chairman Peter Risdale. The appeal of these two may be a little more niche than some of the others on the playlist.
Sultans of Ping were always a great, fun band and this track is no exception. Made up entirely of quotes from legendary Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough (many of which are about his son Nigel).
Straight edge hardcore is not a genre of music I listen to a lot, but my good friend Nick Mann who passed away earlier this year used to promote a lot of hardcore gigs, so it will always have a special place in my heart. So I was very pleased to find this hardcore track about american football, even if it’s one of the few sports Nick never really liked.
Bob Dylan’s ‘Hurricane’ is about a boxer rather than boxing per se, being about the false imprisonment and conviction of boxer Ruben ‘Hurricane’ Carter for murder. It’s a superb, powerful song though, and deserves its’ place on this list.
Whether ten pin bowling can be considered a sport is up for debate, but I love this song so much that I was never not going to include it. There are few songs that make me smile as much as this one.
This may not strictly be about a sport, but it is titled ‘Ping Pong’ and the beat is constructed from the sound of ping pong bat against ball, the originality of which begs to be recognised.
Some bands have a song or two about sports. Speedy Ortiz released a whole EP about sports. Neil Hannon of Divine Comedy fame went a step or two further and formed an entire side project based around cricket. The Duckworth-Lewis method (named after a method of settling incomplete matches) have released, to date, two full cricket-themed albums. ‘Jiggery Pokery’ is my favourite track from either album, being surely the only song which will ever be written from the perspective of chubby England cricketer Mike Gatting.