Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Top 5 Songs About Hockey

I said I'd probably post about the Emmy's but I'm not going to. Way to go, 30 Rock... way to go, Tina and Alec... nice bit with Ricky Gervais demanding his Emmy back from Steve Carrell. All that being said, the Vikings won their first game of the season, the Twins are still in the AL Central hunt, and, most importantly, hockey pre-season starts this week. It is a good time to be a fan of sports or well-written situational comedy!

5. (tie) Hockey Hair – Atmosphere / Ice Hockey Hair – Super Furry Animals

Neither of these songs are that much about hockey, or hockey hair, to be perfectly frank. Then again, hockey doesn’t get a lot of name-checks, so you kind of have to take it where you can get it. Incidentally, you might be saying to yourself, “Wow, for a five item list, it’s pretty weird for your number five to be a totally unqualified inclusion.” Um… yeah. I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into, folks. I like hockey and music and lists—you wanna make a federal case out of it, I friggin’ dare ya.

4. The Hockey Monkey – The Zambonis

This song is a pinnacle of absurdism. In fact, it is number four on my forthcoming list The Top 53 Pinnacles of Absurdism, just behind Waiting for Godot, The Myth of Sisyphus, and Cabin Fever. The plot is as follows: there is a hockey-loving simian in town. The monkey, beloved by many children, is a bit of a Pied Piper figure, and leads the kids down to the pond to partake in a game, much to the chagrin of parents, teachers, and local law enforcement officials. The monkey is either abnormally good at hockey or the kids are just very kind to animals because, as evidenced by the video, they apparently have quite a barnburner of a game, which ends in a 9-9 tie. To me, this is sheer brilliance.

3. The Hockey Song – Dr. Stompin’ Tom Connors

It is unclear what discipline Stompin’ Tom Connors received his doctorate—possibly music or hockey, but more likely for wearing a sweet hat. Despite this song’s status as the frozen equivalent of Take Me Out to Ballgame… (or a near approximation thereof, I mean, they don’t sing it at games or anything) it is worth noting that the chorus is a fine little tautology. I mean, if the good old hockey game is the best game you can name, I suppose the converse would certainly follow as a truth-statement. But hell, I’m not gonna rag on your rhyme scheme, Tom Connors. You, after all, are a doctor.

2. Fireworks – Tragically Hip

I stole this from something I wrote a long time ago about this song. It was too precise to not copy/paste… (translation: I am too lazy to not take an opportunity to be self-reflexive.)

“The relationship between sports and love is a funny one. Some guys keep their sporting lives separate from their romantic lives. For other guys, sports can be a great way to relate to the opposite sex. That line in this song—“You said you didn't give a fuck about hockey / And I never saw someone say that before”—it kills me every time. But the guy lets go of Bobby Orr so he can hold his girl’s hand.

On a side note, I definitely fall into the latter category of guys. Once I saw Mike Mussina take a perfect game into the 9th inning against the Red Sox. With two outs and a 1-2 count on Carl Everett (who doesn’t believe in dinosaurs), I called my then girlfriend and made her turn on the TV. Everett bloops the next pitch into center for a single and my dad just glares at me. What can I say? I was trying to share something I love with someone I loved. Sorry Moose.”

1. Hit Somebody (The Hockey Song) – Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon is criminally underrated. Like, to the point where I want to be a Batman-style vigilante and go around punishing the evil-doers who fail to rate Zevon’s genius as a lyricist/singer/human person. This is my favorite Warren Zevon song and it is an absolute gem. A perfect distillation of narrative into song. A passionately delivered epic, almost Greek in scope. A richly orchestrated tale of one man’s lifelong quest for the simplest of holy grails: one… damn… goal. With this song, Zevon soars out of the novelty box so many tried to fit him into and lands in the pantheon of high art. And amazingly, he takes a subject as potentially unrelatable as hockey (that whitest of white sports) and turns it into the most impeccable conceit for a good life well-earned. Buddy, our protagonist, trades the spotlight and salary of a superstar for the scars and sorrows of an enforcer, protecting his teammates and securing their success in the process. In the end, he pays the ultimate price for his fleeting taste of fulfillment. How fucking beautiful and epic is that!

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