Two weeks ago, I made a business trip to London. Well, not the usual & boring weekdays kind of trip; but the rare & incredibly entertaining weekend kind. I spent most of the time at the Arsenal's Emirates Stadium, attending some matches of the Emirates Cup. Even if in a playground mode, my schedule was quite tight. At the end of it, just before Arsenal and New York Red Bulls started the last match of the tournament, I had to jump in a train of the Piccadilly Line and go to Heathrow, for catching my flight back. I did it. But I took the longest and winding road. Not southwest-ward, to the closer Halloway Road tube station, but northeast-ward, to the properly called Arsenal station. Just for one reason: I wanted to dedicate at least five minutes and five pictures to the remains of the nearby old Highbury stadium.
From my Italian perspective and historical memory, Highbury is the stadium where our nazionale played a foggy and legendary 1934 game against the England team. We lost 3-2 (this YouTube title is wrong), but we showed we could compete even with the masters of football (nowadays, that Italian team is still known as "I leoni di Highbury", Highbury lions...). From my Torino-fan perspective, Highbury is the last stadium where we played an international game, in 1994 against Arsenal, obviously losing it, before being swallowed in the inferno of the second division, where we are still floating & burning. From the British point of view, naturally, the stadium is (was) something different, something more, the historical temple of Arsenal.
From my five-minutes-tourist-in-Islington perspective, instead, Highbury was essentially the main character of a book I did and do love: Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch. That's the reason behind the picture you see above (shot while a bike gang of 12-year-old boys were noisingly staring at me and at my smartphone, in a way that today has assumed a different, creepier tone, in the aftermath of recent London riots). And that's the reason of this playlist, too. On the tube to Heathrow, I started reading Fever Pitch again. I loved it, again (this guy became famous writing a book about his obsession for football?? Genius!!). I noted many musical references. And I decided to make a booktrack with all these references (booktrack = book + soundtrack, an invention of mine, but I kindly let it in public domain...).
1st: yes, I'm really, pathologically sick.
2nd: no, really, totally sick: I started to look for YouTube videos of the matches Hornby wrote about, too. You find some of them, below: so, actually, this is a booktubetrack (public domain, again).
3rd: I noticed that during the Seventies Hornby listened to much more music than in the Eighties. Or, maybe, the music he listened to left a stronger mark in its DNA. Indeed, there are far more music references, comparisons and jokes in the first half of the book, than in the latter.
One more thing: my personal Fever Pitch revival was completed tonight with the (second) view of the 1997 movie adaptation with Colin Firth. It's a really good summer movie. You even appreciate it when you don't care a lot about Arsenal and you support another football team, locked in the italian Serie B. The movie soundtrack is good, too, starting with The La's' There She Goes and going through The Who, Lisa oh-my-god-the-end-of-the-80s Stansfield and Van Morrison. So I decided to add some of these songs to the playlist, too, as bonus tracks (booktubemoviesoundtrack?)
One very last thing: if you support ManU, City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham or whatever other English team, probably you will find all this Arsenal stuff rather annoying (except the last video, maybe). I understand it. If I saw on a website something similar about Juventus, I'd probably block the website access from my computer and likely I'd even start writing anonymous menacing emails to the site owner. Well, in that case, forget the post and its humble writer, and give a chance to the music. I think the playlist is not bad, quite varied & classic, and since there are not Gallaghers in it, it's definitely football agnostic.
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BOOKTRACKS - NICK HORNBY's FEVER PITCH
Source: Fever Pitch (book) + Fever Pitch (movie)
1. Eddie Floyd - Raise Your Hand*
2. Carla Thomas - Something Good (Is Going To Happen You)*
3. Johnny Taylor - Ain't That Lovin' You (For More Reasons Than One)*
4. Sam and Dave - Soothe Me*
5. Otis Redding - Day Tripper*
* first five blue-label Stax records
(page 2: "We would be left to rot with our Arsenal programmes or our collection of original blue-label Stax records...")
6. David Cassidy - Cherish
7. Black Sabbath - Paranoid
(page 21: "How could my sister not hear that David Cassidy was not in the same class as Black Sabbath?")
8. Richard Tauber - Girls Were Made To Love and Kiss
(page 31: "Constable Morgan (whose rank never changed throughout his long Highbury career) sang highlights from light operettas and Hollywood musicals: my programme for the Derby Game says that he performed Lehar's 'Girls We Made To Love and Kiss' that afternoon.")
9. Steve Morse - Heartbreaker
(page 38: "Once we went to look around the Chelsea Drugstore, where I bought the second Led Zeppelin album..."; the song is taken from Led Zeppelin II, but it's a cover version because of the Led Zeppelin embargo on Spotify; )
10. Lou Reed - I Wanna Be Black
(pag.40: "Hence the phenomenon of mock-belonging, whereby pasts and backgrounds are manufactured and massaged in order to provide some kind of acceptable cultural identity. Who was it that sang 'I Wanna Be Black'?")
11. Pogues - Whiskey in the Jar
(pag.40: "All those Pogues fans from Hertfordshire singing Irish rebel songs!")
12. Elvis Presley - In the Ghetto
13. Rolling Stones - I Wanna Be Your Man
(pag. 41: "The 1944 Education Act, the first Labour Government, Elvis, beatniks, the Beatles and the Stones, the sixties... we never stood a chance"; Beatles not available on Spotify yet, I had to mix the things a little with the Stones...).
14. Muddy Waters - Mannish Boy
(pag.41: "It's no wonder we all wanted to be Muddy Waters or Charlie George")
15. The Blues Brothers - Soul Man
(pag.72: "You like football? Then you also like soul music, beer, thumping people, grabbing ladies' breasts, and money")
16. Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing
17. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - "Notte e giorno faticar" (Don Giovanni, Act I)
(pag.72: "You're a rugby or a cricket man? You like Dire Straits or Mozart, wine, pinching ladies' bottoms and money")
18. Luther Vandross - Never Too Much
(pag. 72: "You don't fit into either camp? Macho, nein danke? In which case it must follow that you're a pacifist vegetarian, studiously oblivious to the charms of Michelle Pfeiffer, who thinks that only leering wideboys listen to Luther Vandross)
19. Rod Stewart - You Wear It Well
(pag. 74: "I developed a new hairstyle (supposed to resemble Rod Stewart's, but I never found the courage for the spikes) to go with the clobber")
20. Olivia Newton-John - Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
(pag.75: "She was, I thought, beautiful, with the long, straight, centre-parted hair and the melting doe eyes of Olivia Newton-John).
21. Van Morrison - Caravan
(pag. 78: "... and suddenly life was all drink and soft drugs and European literature and Van Morrison).
22. Danny Kaye - I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts
(pag.90: "And when they won a game, the tannoy would blast out 'I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts'...").
23. Graham Parker & The Rumour - The New York Shuffle
24. Television - Venus
25. Patti Smith - Pissing In A River
26. Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road
27. The Clash - White Riot
(pag.92: "... I bought and borrowed records by Graham Parker and Television and Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen and The Clash...).
28. Ramones - Blitzkreig Bop
(pag.94: "How come I had to rely on a couple of Chandler paperbacks and the first Ramones album to provide me with some kind of identity?")
29. Mavis Staples - Chocolate City
30. Shirley Brown - Woman To Woman
(pag.95: "And I have met women who love music, and can tell their Mavis Staples from their Shirley Browns...").
31. Buzzcocks - Orgasm Addict
(pag.102: "I played a Buzzcock album instead (the Singles - Going Steady compilation album), knowing that side one would take me through to the final whistle")
32. Bay City Rollers - Bye Bye Baby
(pag.106: "There were others who did the same, and behind me a pair of teenage girls were weeping silently, not in the hammy fashion of teenage girls at Bay City Rollers concerts, but in a way that suggested a deep and personal gried")
33. Rod Stewart - Sailing
(pag.116: "Everyone knows the song that Millwall fans sing, to the tune of 'Sailing': 'No one likes us/No one likes us/No one likes us/We don't care'").
34. Sex Pistols - Anarchy in the UK
(pag.119: "There was something about it that reminded me of Bill Grundy winding up the Sex Pistols on television in 1976 and then expressing his outrage about their behaviour afterwards. Arsenal, the first of the true punk rockers: our centre-halves were fulfilling a public need for harmless pantomime deviancy long before Johnny Rotten came along".)
35. Maria Callas - Un bel dì vedremo (from Giacomo Puccini's "Madama Butterfly")
(pag.126: "In 1969 I saw George Best play, and score, for Manchester United at Highbury. The experience should have been profound, like seeing Nijinsky dance, or Maria Callas sing, and though I do talk about it in that way sometimes, to younger fans, or those who missed out Best for other reasons, my fond account is essentially phoney: I hated that afternoon".)
36. The Jam - In The City
(pag.130: "It had occurred to me - as I think it occurs to many young teachers of a similar ilk - that my interests (football and pop music in particular) would be an advantage in the classroom, that I would be able to 'identify' with 'the kids' because I understood the value of the Jam and Laurie Cunningham".)
37. Rolling Stones - Painted Black (live)
(pag.192: "Or maybe you saw the Stones at Wembley, but then even something like that is repeated for night after night nowadays, and consequently doesn't have the same one-off impact of a football match".)
BONUS TRACKS (FROM 1987 "FEVER PITCH" MOVIE SOUNDTRACK)
38. The La's – There She Goes
39. Harry J Allstars – The Liquidator
40. The Pogues – Fiesta
41. The Who – Baba O'Riley - Remixed Version
42. Tim Hardin – How Can We Hang On To A Dream
43. Fine Young Cannibals – Good Thing
44. Lisa Stansfield – All Around The World
45. Van Morrison – Bright Side Of The Road
Listen to it on Spotify: HTTP, URI.
Nick Hornby's High Fidelity
La musica liberata (mine)