Friday, January 26, 2007

Bruce Springsteen, and the club that never walks alone

I like Bruce Springsteen - The Boss. Nobody tells a story in a song as well as The Boss does. Nobody throws a concert like The Boss throws them. And nobody can don a pair of overalls and pose unshaven for a photograph like The Boss can.

Here's the thing: anyone who has listened to a Springsteen album will understand that The Boss is probably the world’s number one working class hero, no matter that he's probably rich enough to buy El Salvador. Which is all very curious when you consider how lousy he makes the blue collar life sound.

He has spun countless stories about simple folks with complex problems - almost all of them involving a car that runs badly, a lousy job that they're about to lose, or a girl named Mary (most Springsteen songs have a girl named Mary).

His stories are filled with empty highways, decaying factories, workers on strike, smoggy industrial skylines, wood paneled taverns, and rustic characters who once had it all going for them, but through life's cruel turn now find themselves with no money, no car, no job, and a wife (named Mary) that's about to leave them.

Evidently, nobody in Springsteen's blue collar hell ever gets promoted to manager, or even able to afford a decent Toyota. They instead exist in proletarian hell where mortgages are foreclosed, transmissions leak, and wives have a "headache" every night.

I feel your pain, brother Scouser...

The Boss knows how it feels to be a Liverpool fan
Here is a club that has once won - at some point in its tumultuous history - every prize worth winning in club football. 18 league championships, 7 FA Cups, 7 League Cups, and importantly 5-time winners of the European Cup / Champions' League.

And almost every Liverpool fan you meet will not hesitate to remind you of just that - the statistics. Liverpool fans live and breathe the history that once was. The great 80's with Souness, Hansen and King Kenny – and a bit later with Rush, Barnes, Beardsley and the rest - when they took all of Britain and most of Europe by storm, weighing in as number one contenders on almost every major competition.

Later years saw them unearth the prodigious, predatory talents of Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen. Current captain Steven Gerrard and his deputy Jamie Carragher embody the very spirit of the club: resilience, passion, thirst for glory and a never-day-die approach on the field. A friend who is a die-hard Liverpool fan – and I am close to many of these, in spite of my allegiance to my beloved Manchester United – once said “if Liverpool had six Gerrards and five Carraghers we could again be the club we once were.”

And therein lies the conundrum of the Liverpool fan: in this day and age when strategy, inventiveness, technical ability, panache, wizardry, flair, elegance, flamboyance and style are the sort of buzzwords used by so many to describe a modern football club, all of these don’t matter as much to the Liverpool fan as much as the heart does.

They say if the heart is empty, the rest don't matter (and rightly so).

Truth be told they have had many nights where the heart eventually won the day. Last year’s FA Cup final against West Ham United was one such occasion; on their day, the most tactically astute team don’t have a hope in hell of walking past a Liverpool team that turn up feeling all heart and blood and sweat and tears.

And nobody ever needs reminding of that glorious night in Istanbul. Hand on heart, I will say it meant more to their fans who for over a decade were bereft of any notable achievement, vis-à-vis Manchester United’s dramatic Champions' League victory in 1999, when many of the club’s fans were already used to close to a decade of winning everything.

It’s heart, and blood, and sweat, and tears. Very working class indeed. Why Springsteen has not yet written a song about them is beyond me!

Standard Scouser stance: Heart on sleeve, hand on head / mouth / eyes

But blue collar romanticism aside (and I’m actually referring to the red half of Merseyside), we shouldn’t ignore the real essence of being a protagonist in a Springsteen song: he’s always a loser and a bum, no matter how much you feel for him.

And that my friends, is Liverpool in a nutshell. You tend to feel for the poor chaps. Close to 17 years of absence on top of Britain’s league is a long time indeed. Some of the babies born when they won their last league title have grown up to be teenagers who unlike their parents prefer the modern appeals of the game: strategy, inventiveness, technical ability, panache, wizardry, and all that nonsense. Heck, many of them probably even support Chelsea. Or worse, Everton!

So you would please excuse me my dear Scouse friends if my genuine wish is for you to pull your bloody socks up and start the damn season properly next year. For goodness sakes go on and win the blessed thing so you can finally sing about something worthwhile.

Or don’t. I mean, what the hell would The Boss write about then?


Gallivanter said...

I'm a fan of Bruce Springsteen. BUT, hopefully Liverpoo don't ever win the league in my lifetime. As it is, they sing You'll Never Wank Alone every time, win or lose (the most oversung deadening song ever)! As much as I dislike Manure fans (all in the spirit of the game), I detest Liverpoo fans even more. So wank on Liverpoo, wank on... :-P

mat sempit red with rage said...

This is a travesty! Springsteen also wrote about gays and scret gardens.. so what are you trying to say!

Hurnain said...

for once a Man Yoo fan who can write something intelligent.

you'd hv no complaints from me on this one.


Kenny Ng said...

Bruce Springsteen!!! One of my favorite. I never relate him with liverpool.

kickciggys said...

an extremely odd comparison or sort but it was worth the read..wicked stuff..just to prove a point..i prefer a passionate heart compared to wizardry and be fair we need more mixtures of them good example is giggsy

spiller said...

u would be one of my favourite MU-fan friend, ya know? :)

Anonymous said...

Have your say on the

A Shabby Singh said...

What a stretch, man - The Boss and Liverpool? That's too big a compliment.

lilyliverbird said...

Perhaps The Boss will write about LA Galaxy Sucker instead?

It's a shame Beatles and Oasis support the blue half eh?

anjali* said...

The only 2 key songs I can remember by him are "Dancing In The Dark" and "Fire".

Doreen said...

haha, standard scouser stance? HAHA! Me likey.

Hedonistics Anonymous said...

the first time i watched an epl match was between liverpool and man utd. it was quite some time ago when david james was still liverpool's goalkeeper.

i picked liverpool and never looked back.

to me, man utd supporters are the ones who also support michael schumacher (before he went downnnn) and england/brazil in the world cup. in short, sheep mentality. let's play follow the leader.

sic6sense said...

good post altho i was a bit confused about the last bit. Liverpool will always be a working class city, champions or not. its this underdog mentality that makes football such an integral part of the cityscape. for a lot of them, they have nothing else.

londoners will never understand.

Mr D said...

OMG, a Manc with an objective mind about the EPL. The gods have praised us with such an objective viewpoint. LOL!

As a Poolite, I never would have associated the Boss with the pool but maybe because he is American!

Walk on my friend!

Desparil said...

eh, don't la. if they win, what does that leave us? unlike some people, doing the double over my rivals means jack to me - i'd rather the team have some silverware at the end of the season.

9 said...

give chance la to us, okay. we haven't won the bloody thing since forever.

u can the hv european cup if u'd like.

Desparil said...


next season can or not? let us beat chelski to it this season lah, since we're up there anyways.

visithra said...

hehehe oh my god this was so good - am sending it to all liver fans i know ;p heheheh - brilliant post keropok

Anonymous said...

Liverpool understands tactics and strategy. That's what we pay Rafa to do!

But what makes us special is the bond between the fans and the club, we're not Liverpool fans, we ARE Liverpool FC, along with the Manager and the players. It's a beautiful football trinity nobody else has.