Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Bat of Burning Gold

So England’s cricketers “will take the pitch to a rousing rendering of Jerusalem”.
This will disappoint those who, in a poll carried out by a digital music channel asking 2,000 people in England what song they would choose to represent their country, chose A Candle in the Wind, All You Need is Love, Vindaloo (what?), Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Abide with Me and several other songs proclaiming England’s sporting prowess, or something.

Jerusalem got 51% of the vote. It’s odd that Blake’s poem should be thought to inspire patriotic fervour, beginning as it does with four questions to all of which the answer is a resounding no. Of course, it’s not to be taken literally, it’s just a metaphor, but surely a rather outdated one: all our dark satanic mills are now loft apartments with designer kitchens and real teak floors. But bits of England are still green and pleasant enough and the idea of building even a metaphorical Jerusalem here has some pretty unpleasant connotations.

But if you forget the ludicrous suggestions it’s a jolly good tune, and there aren’t many other choices. There’ll Always Be An England isn’t really saying very much: there’ll always be a North Pole, if it comes to that, unless we go and melt it.


Court said...

I think they should've chosen All You Need Is Love. That would've been funny. Provided you're referring to the Beatles tune, of course. ;o)

Jago said...

I've read somewhere that when Blake said "dark satanic mills" he was talking about churches, not factories - which makes sense.

Tony said...

Well, maybe, Jago. Google lists 40,900 references to the DSMs and I haven't checked them all.
Blake, apparently, was attacking the Reformation as well as the Industrial Revolution so either interpretation might make sense, though of course one doesn't really expect much sense from a mystic poet.
What is beyond any doubt is that his words are about as relevant to a sporting contest as Candle in the Wind.

Froog said...

It's curious that England's football supporters in the last couple of decades have adopted two film theme songs with which to try to inspire their team: 'Self-Preservation Society' from 'The Italian Job' and the rousing marching band number from 'The Great Escape'. They're both rather jolly tunes, but they hardly suggest a robust self-confidence about dominating the opposition in the match.

If our cricketers need an 'Entry of the gladiators' number to get the adrenalin pumping through their veins, I think I would have nominated 'The Dambusters'. Or perhaps the theme from '633 Squadron'.

Lyrics are almost always going to be distracting, if not embarrassingly incongruous. We just need an instrumental with a bit of Souza-esque zip about it.