On today’s Channel 4 News: an item on the Northern Irish football team’s preparations for the European Championship, including a discussion about replacing God Save The Queen as their national anthem for something more inclusive of all their communities.
Surely, the obvious candidate is the greatest song by the province’s greatest ever band: Teenage Kicks? It might not say anything much about the six counties, but at least it is something everyone can relate to (unlike a request to a fictional entity about a controversial institution)? And a song about ‘kicks’ (albeit of a different nature) works for football. Best of all, if this is your song and your opponents are coming out to some tiresome dirge (England) or overblown military band nonsense, you are bound to be more pumped up than them.
That brings me to today’s song. A week ago, George East and I went to see the Manic Street Preachers play Albert Hall – a venue that shouldn’t have worked but did, spectacularly. They played two sets, the first being a run through their masterpiece album, Everything Must Go. As they reached this, the ninth track on the album, George and I excitedly talked about how great it would be if Australia adopted this as their national anthem.
On reflection, we had an extremely stupid idea (although the Australian tourist board did use it for a while on their ads). The song is about Nicky Wire’s desire to get as far away as possible from Wales following the tragic disappearance of guitarist Richie Edwards:
I want to fly and run till it hurts
Sleep for a while and speak no words
All in all, the song is full of introspection that is very un-Australian. But despite the melancholy lyrics, it is still a belter of a song.