Who hasn't heard this expression before?
Moreso than any other sport, hockey is the most associated with loud brash guitars, manic drumming, and screaching vocals. Country songs about hockey? There are a few. Country songs about baseball, more than I care to count or listen. Hip Hop dominates basketball songs and football songs tend to begin and end with Hank Williams Jr.'s Monday Night Football theme song. I read somewhwere that there are more songs written about hockey than any other sport. That's easy to understand, because, as Stompin' Tom Connors first declared in 1973, "The best game you can name is the good ol' hockey game".
I happened upon this subject quite offhandedly. Just a few days ago I was perusing my favorite Bruce Springsteen site, when it linked me to a SI.com list of the 10 greatest sports songs. The list included the Boss' "Glory Days" at #8 (ironically, it is a song about aging, and not baseball, despite it's two opening lines), and John Fogerty's benchwarmer classic "Centerfield"(#7). Admittedly, I didn't know many of the songs on the list, although everyone not hiding under a rock surely has heard the #1 tune. Oddly enough, no hockey songs were in the top 10.
What got me going was their selection at #2.
I started making a list of the songs I knew that were about hockey. I came up with a sure dozen plus. I asked friends, aquaintances, and work cohorts to name their favorites. I got the usual responses of "Taking Care Of Business", "We Will Rock You", "Start Me Up", "Pump It Up", and of course "The Hockey Song". Out of 10 people I surveyed not one mentioned my favorite. When I mentioned it to them, they had similar reactions. "Oh yeah, that's right, forgot that one!'
That got me off on a mission. I decided to do an internet search to see what I could come up with and the results were quite interesting. I found more by performing a Kazaa download. I never found the "Gros Bill", a tribute to Jean Beliveau sung to the tune of Jimmy Dean's "Big John" I had heard in my youth, but it was like a whole world of songs opened up, nevertheless.
The most interesting finds were a B.C. (as in Bridgeport, Connecticut - thanks tapeleg!) based band called The Zambonis that had issued three discs worth of nothing but hockey songs, "100% Hockey and Other Stuff", "More Songs about Hockey...and Buildings and Food", and "Play Off Fever". Some of their song titles are simply irrisistable - "The Referee's Daughter", "The Goalie Is Drunk", "Lost My Teeth" and "Hockey Monkey" are but a few delicious samplings. Another B.C. band, D.O.A. has done some hockey related material, the best known of which is a hockey related video cover of BTO's "Taking Care of Business". There is even a french Canadian band called Les Dale Hawerchuks.
Here is a listing of songs I have found. Some of them I have heard, some I haven't been able to get to, but many of them are quite rare. I'll add notes wherever I can and include my own top 10 at the bottom of the list.
The numerical order is irrelevant to anything other than my top 10.
50 - Hockey Night Tonight - Hanson Brothers
49 - Cancer Sticks and Hockey Sticks - SNFU
48 - Joe Murphy - Wheat Chiefs (Not the former NHLer)
47 - Pencilneck Gek - Joey Shithead and Cub
46 - Drinking Whiskey, Playing Hockey - Tankhog (Not sure if there is a rum version dedicated to Zanstrom)
45 - Of Orange Pucks and Mighty Ducks (Hello Battle of California)
44 - Hockey Song - Jughead (Archie's buddy punking out on Stompin'Tom)
43 - Head High - Front End Loader
42 - What's Wrong With Lumme - Glenn Ford and the Piers (Hodge..fill me in on this!)
41 - In through The Five Hole - The Bombshells (Must be a Lalime, Racicot, or Kidd tribute, maybe Manon Rheaume!)
40 - Gump Worsley's Lament - Huevos Rancheros
39 - Pull Your Goalie - Aging Youth Gang (My suspicion is this ain't no hockey song)
38 - Overtime - D.O.A. (A morning after elimination hangover ode)
37 - Our Stanley Cup - the Smugglers
36 - Boy From Omsk - Swell Pod (I'm afraid I won't wanna hear this one!)
35 - Wanna Go ( Do You?) - U.I.C. (If this ain't a fight song - it's gotta be about sex)
34 - She Devil On Skates - Mighty Bitches (Not sure if these chicks once played for the MIghty Dykes!)
33 - Swampwater - Itch
32 - Slapshot - The Wingnuts (Great band name regardless of content or quality)
31 - The Enemy - Hanson Brothers
30 - Blood On The Ice - The Riverdales
29 - Ballad of Cookie La Rue - Stool Pidgeons (Could be the story of the road apple - the original hockey puck!)
28 - Red Wing - The Commies (Not Yzerman fans, I'd imagine)
27 - Hockey Hair - The Pansies (Could be a tribute to the mullet...who knows!)
26 - Gino Odjick - JP5
25 - Some Kinda freaks - The Bones
24 - Ted's Got The Puck - Ted
23 - You High Sticked My Heart - The Dinks ( I've read this is a classic)
22 - Penalty Box - Steaknife (This is either a tribute to Tiger Williams or Mrs. Bobbitt)
21 - Royal Grand Prix - CCM
20 - Fuck Gary Bettman - P.U.C.K. (Obviously written during the 2005 lockout)
19 - Beat 'Em Bust 'Em - D.O.A.
18 - HNIT - The Molestics (Not a sombre tale - stay away Leafs fans)
17 - ECH - The Boskops
16 - One Timer - Pullfinger (Watch out for the fart!)
15 - The Flower - Wry Eel (Must be about Guy!)
14 - Koho - One Ton Shotgun (Stick Love-No graphine shaft)
13 - End To End Rush - Swank (Great magazine!)
12 - Billy Zamboni - Strange Brew
11 - Ring Dem Bells - Hanson Brothers (Ever been hit in the nuts by a puck?)
10 - "Clear The Track, Here Comes Shack"- Douglas Rankine and the Secrets: A tribute to former Leaf Eddie Shack. The much travelled journeyman was never exactly a star in the NHL, but he had heart and soul to spare. Nicknamed the entertainer, he was the closest hybrid of the NHL and WWF. In today's game game, he would be a cross between Ovechkin and Laraque. Rankine and the Secrets got lots of airplay with this one in the early seventies. A crowd pleaser.
9 - "Gretzky Rocks" - The Pursuit of Happiness: The band better known for their 1980's hit "I'm An Adult Now" issued this tune as a b-side to a single. Lead Singer Moe Berg simply and acoustically waxes poetic about the Great One's exploits. A lost Canadian gem! Not to be confused with "Wayne Gretzky" by Goldfinger.
8 - The Ballad of Wendel Clark Pts 1 & 2 - The Rheostatics: Exactly what you'd imagine. Everything about the former Leaf captain from knockout goals to knockout punches. A true canadian hero minus a Stanley Cup ring. "Well I heard Wendel talking to Dave Hodge last night/And he said that he was confident and keen./And he said that Jacques Plante didn't die so all of us could glide/He said that hard work is the ethic of the free." Guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye of any true Leafs' fan. The album is called "Greatest Hits."
7 - "Hockey Night In Canada Theme" - The Shiffle Demons: A hyped up version of the classic horn driven tune we are all familiar with. Beats the Kazoo Orchestra's version all to Hell. The Demons kick off their album "Bop Rap" with this guerilla jazz take and it includes an appropriately frantic play-by-play break Too bad it never had lyrics.
6 - Fireworks - Tragically Hip: Sample lyric; "If there was a goal that everyone remembers/It was back in ol' 72/We all held the stick and pulled the trigger/ All I remember is sitting beside you....You said you didn't give a fuck about hockey/I never heard someone say that before/ You held my hand.... looosened my grip on Bobby Orr". Little known fact, lead singer of the Hip, Gord Downie, is married to longstanding Bruins Gm Harry Sinden's daughter. That explains the age old Bruins jersey in the "Courage" video! From the Hips last great disc "Phantom Power".
5 - "Me Like Hockey" - The Arrogant Worms: A tribute to the primitive hockey fan done caveman style. True Canadiana! All attitude and amaturism. If this doesn't tickle your funny bone nothing will. The JimH blog did a great writeup on it and you can even download it from the site for quick listen.
4 - "Hit Somebody" - Warren Zevon: A parody played straight or a complete lack of geographical knowledge by a SoCal songwriter (best known for "Werewolves Of London") - you decide. What isn't in debate is how funny this goon tale plays out despite it's semi serious tone. David Letterman plays the role of the fan shouting out. Buddy is born in Big Beaver, dreams of Rocket Richard, and is scouted by the Flames scout from Saskatoon. "Buddy's real talent was beating people up" could liken this tune to anyone from Tony Twist to Gino Odjick. After 20 years in the game, poor Buddy finally scores one! Check the lyrics and find out how! Ought to be a classic!
3 - The Hockey Song - Stompin' Tom Connors: Okay I know it doesn't exactly rock, but this song has managed to become more controvertial than any punkers tune. It is pretty much to the point in stating that hockey "is the best game you can name". Originally released in 1973, it contained the final couplet, "The puck is in/The Canadians win/The good ol' hockey game". Oddly many Toronto Maple Leafs fans objected to the seemingly Hab obvious lyric and protested loudly at the time. Connors countered by rerecording it in different live versions over the years, mentioning the Leafs and Canucks. Those versions, sent only to radio stations have seldom been heard. No Oilers, Jets, Flames, or Nordique versions have ever been done. The song had a rebirth in the early 1990's when played at a Sens-Leafs game in Ottawa. Toronto coach at the time, Pat Burns, asked that it be played in the Gardens and the song took on nationalistic proportions. The version most have come to know is the "Bobby scores...the home team wins" version. Ironically, the "Canadians win" version, was in tribute to Team Canada 1972 and not the Montreal Canadiens. Jealousy will do that to you! Any way you look at it, this minimalist tribute is a foot stomping classic.
2 - Fifty Mission Cap - Tragically Hip: The Story of Leafs legend Bill Barilko ripped off from the back of a hockey card. Does it get more Canadian than this? After scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal in OT in 1951, Barilko disappeared in a plane crash accident in the Northern Ontario Lakes region. His remains were unfound until 1962. The Leafs 11 year Cup drought eerily coincided with the recovery of Barilko's remains.
1 - Big League - Tom Cochrane and Red Rider: This one still gives me chills. In 1986, the Calgary Flames drafted George Pelawa 16th overall. He was a prospect that had size to go with a scoring prowess. He was playing in the U.S. collegiate circles and was killed in a highway collision. The story is told from the fathers point of view. No hockey Dad can distance themselves from the lyric "My boy's gonna play in the big league/ my boy's gonna knock 'em dead" without feeling it's sting. It is a true Canadian tale that ends when "Ice meets metal/In the wrong lane to the big league". Cochrane's broken hearted "Aaaah aha" wail makes one's neck hair stand on end. The truest of Canadian classics.