Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Football Attic's Hit Parade: We Can Do It

The more you delve deeply into the history of football teams and their commercially released music, the more you realise that few clubs have ever created an original song from scratch. Even Jimmy Hill's 'Sky Blue Song' was a rewritten version of The Eton Boating Song, and that from a man regarded by many as a pioneer of football. Is there nothing new under the sun?

Liverpool Football Club were only following a precedent when they released 'We Can Do It' in 1977, just as they were entering a truly golden era of success. The song was a reinterpretation of 'I Can Do It' by The Rubettes, which reached number 7 in the UK charts during March 1975. Liverpool's version, as you'd expect, reflected the collective team ethic of the Anfield club rather than dwelling on a childhood love for rock and roll music.

Opting for a slightly slower tempo and a lower pitch than the cap-wearing popsters before them, the likes of Clemence, Thompson, Neal et al warbled proudly of their history and footballing capabilities. And because, presumably, someone thought they matched the stereotypical profile of 'dumb football players', the lyrics were suitably simple enough for them to sing, too.

In short, the phrase "we can do it" crops up 45 times during the three minutes and ten seconds of this musical masterpiece. That's once every 4.2 seconds. Even Jimmy Case could have managed that, let alone Kevin 'Head Over Heels In Love' Keegan. It's fair to say this was never going to win a Brit Award, but then again a cover of 'Chanson d'Amour' by Manhattan Transfer was never going to be sung by The Kop's masses either.

This was very much Status Quo territory; a relentless guitar-strumming stomper, uncomplicated and easy to sing along to. It was also notably popular, peaking at number 15 in the charts in May 1977. Though the team didn't appear in person, the song did get heard over the closing credits of Top of the Pops at the end of that month, following an illustrious line-up that included Kenny Rogers, Bryan Ferry and The Stranglers. And Dave Lee Travis. Imagine that for a moment, if you will.

Two days before such an honour was bestowed upon them, Liverpool beat Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to win the 1977 European Cup Final. It was to be Kevin Keegan's swansong in the famous red shirt, after which he moved to Hamburg. It was hardly coincidence that his departure as a future musical heavyweight in his own right heralded eleven barren years during which Liverpool FC enjoyed no chart success whatsoever. It wasn't until 'The Anfield Rap' came along in 1988 that the pride of (one half of) Merseyside was restored, and even then, the jury's still out where that particular point is concerned.

For now, though, we respect the ability of one club to take someone else's song, get it sung by a couple of dozen top football players and get it into the upper reaches of the Top 40. A magnificent achievement, and one that could only be matched in this case by John Barnes wearing a cap back to front. Staggering.

-- Chris Oakley

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1 comment:

  1. Nearly missed this one. Give me a prod @FootieAndMusic when you do another.