Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Real HNIC Song















Watching the unfolding vote for a new Hockey Night In Canada theme song is an irritating process. I'm at a point where I could almost care less. As a Canadiens fan, it's not like I have watched hockey on the CBC for some time. RDS has done the job for me for quite some time!

Then again, RDS this fall, has been tinkering with their broadcasting crew to my great displeasure, so I might just be tuning into a few more Habs games on the CBC. With Bob Cole and Harry Neale virtually iced from a good portion of the games, I might give it another try.

I've been listening to a few clips of the new songs at the CBC site where they are posted, and they don't quite do it for me. The benefit, of a new song, if there supposedly is one, is that the scaccato trumpets would be giving way to lyrics.





















It's not that the former HNIC theme song is totally irreplacable. I have in fact been envisioning a totally different hockey song as a measuring stick for what a new one ought to be. It is a song already etched in the Canadian identity conscience and it gives me goosebumps everytime I hear it still. Hearing it gives me much to think about.

Lyrics and a descent story to tell will do that for a great song!

It is the dream of many Canadian boys (and girls now!) to make it big in hockey. It is also the dream of many a parent, from you and me to Walter Gretzky to Jerry Price.

It was also the dream of one young George Pelawa at one time. Pelawa was a former first round pick of the Calgary Flames whose dream was snatched from his grasp as it was about to get underway.

A Hockey Night In Canada theme song should bring forth visions of getting up early, defrosting the car windows, to head off to a rickety old arena. The song should sound like skates on ice and smell like old shinpads.

It should feel like triumph, while bringing with it a lump in your throat and a tear in your heart, that dreams both won and lost out on will do.


















This song should sound how it felt to be when you were young. It should also make you think back now that you are wiser.

If a song can capture all of this, it truly should be THE Hockey Night In Canada song!

Tom Cochrane's "Big League" does all of this!

It's been my HNIC song for years.

Do yourself a favor. This Saturday night, when the game you choose to watch comes on, back to this clip, cue it up play it before the game.

You'll see what it does and know what it means.

Cochrane has never admitted that he wrote the song about Pelawa, who was on a U.S. scholarship when his truck was in a head on collision that took his life. For the songwriter, it has always been a private matter he has kept to himself. It is known that he has met once with George Pelawa's father, and that is all that is known behind the song's origins.

Last summer in a concert here in town, Cochrane joked before playing it, that he is always asked who it is about. He's played pickup hockey with dozens of NHL'ers past and present who say to him, "I know that song is about me."

I guess that goes to show just how forget into the Canadian identity it is!

Cochrane confessed the song was actually about himself, when he was young. He didn't address the final verse of the lyric.

As a Hockey Night In Canada theme, the song should actually cut out before the dream crashes. Everyone knows it's there, and that is good enough.

There is a lyric below.



Another, lesser known song about hockey that is over a decade old, tries to hard to be something that it can't.

"Hit Somebody", written by Warren Zevon of "Werewolves Of London" fame, is actually pretty good in a way. It is humourous, but non - biographical, and about what you'd expect from a SoCal hockey fan.

It also tells a compelling story of a kid making it to the big leagues, although his fists and not his skill, are the route. The lyrics for this one are also below. Watch out for a grouning reference to a team called the Saskatoon Flames.



BIG LEAGUE

When he was a kid, he'd be up at five
Take shots till eight, make the thing drive
Out after school, back on ice
That was his life, he was gonna play in the Big League
The Big League

Not many ways out of this cold northern town
You work in the mill and get laid in the ground
If you're gonna jump it will be with the game
Real fast and tough is the only clear lane to the Big League

My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna turn some heads
My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna knock 'em dead
The Big League

All the right moves when he turned eighteen
Scholarship and school on a big U.S. team
Out with his girl near Lake McClean
Hit a truck doing seventy in the wrong lane
To the Big League

My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna turn some heads
My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna knock 'em dead

Never can tell what might come down
Never can tell how much you get
Just don't know, no you never can tell

Sometimes at night I can hear the ice crack
It sounds like thunder and it rips through my back
Sometimes in the morning I still hear the sound
Ice meets metal...
"Can't you drive me down to the Big League?"

My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna turn some heads
My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna knock 'em dead

Never can tell what might come down
Never can tell when you might check out
Just don't know, no you never can tell
So do right to others like you do to yourself
In the Big League

HIT SOMEBODY

He was born in Big Beaver by the borderline
He started playing hockey by the time he was nine
His dad took the hose and froze the back yard
And Little Buddy dreamed he was Rocket Richard
He grew up big and he grew up tough
He saw himself scoring for the Wings or Canucks
But he wasn't that good with a puck

Buddy's real talent was beating people up
His heart wasn't in it but the crowd ate it up
Through pee-wee's and juniors, midgets and mites
He must have racked up more than three hundred fights
A scout from the flames came down from Saskatoon
Said, "There's always room on our team for a goon
Son, we've always got room for a goon"

There were Swedes to the left of him
Russians to the right
A Czech at the blue line looking for a fight
Brains over brawn that might work for you
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?

Hit somebody! was what the crowd roared
When Buddy the goon came over the boards
"Coach", he'd say, "I wanna score goals"
The coach said, "Buddy, remember your role,
The fast guys get paid, they shoot, and they score
Protect them, Buddy, that's what you're here for"

Protection is what you're here for
Protection, it's the stars who score
Protection, go and kick somebody's ass
Protection, don't put the biscuit in the basket just
Hit some, Buddy! it rang in his ears
Blood on the ice ran down through the years
The king of the goons with a box for a throne
A thousand stitches and broken bones
He never lost a fight on his icy patrol
But deep inside, Buddy only dreamed of a goal
He just wanted one damn goal

There were Swedes at the blue line
Finns at the red
A Russian with a stick heading straight for his head
Brains over Brawn--that might work for you
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?

In his final season, on his final night
Buddy and a Finn goon were pegged for a fight
Thirty seconds left, the puck took a roll
And suddenly Buddy had a shot on goal

The goalie committed, Buddy picked his spot
Twenty years of waiting went into that shot
The fans jumped up, the Finn jumped too
And cold-cocked Buddy on his followthrough
The big man crumbled but he felt all right
'Cause the last thing he saw
Was the flashing red light
He saw that heavenly light

There were Swedes to the left of him
Russians to the right
A Czech at the blue line looking for a fight
Take care of your teeth--that might work for you
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?

1 comment:

Chuck said...

"Big League" would be a fantastic choice. Powerful, anthemic, and the lyrics really strike home.