Carragher's On Song

Mike Hewitt

I've just read the dressing room playlist for Saturday's game, as chosen by the retiring Jamie Carragher. It simply must be discussed. It's just so...Jamie Carragher.

Yesterday the erudite members of this community displayed their eclectic learning by expounding on subjects as diverse as Socratic teachings and headbands, so it is with some confidence that I begin today's offering with a reminder that Plato, that celebrated student of Socrates, once insisted that "music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything."

A wise bloody man, that Plato chap. I hold firmly to the belief he espouses that music is central to life, an essential ingredient in the make-up of human existence. All the most important events in my own spell on this mortal coil (decent band, them) have musical flags planted squarely in their centre, so inextricably linked is this art-form with my emotions and memories.

When I cut myself badly with a milk bottle at five years old, Boney M's two hits, Brown Girl In The Ring and Rasputin seemed to be on a loop on the radio. My first kiss was to the dubious background serenade of Paul Young's Wherever I Lay My Hat on Top Of The Pops. The first relationship of note I ever had played out against a dangerously overused tape of The Stone Roses eponymous debut album. My daughter's first weeks were marked poignantly by the lyrics on Sketches For My Swetheart The Drunk by Jeff Buckley. Hell, even my last trip to Liverpool will forever be associated with You Can Colour Me In by the very wonderful Silent Sleep, who left me awestruck at their live set.

Music then, matters. It forms a kind of narrative about us; it charts a course around our likes and dislikes, passions and hatreds. I'm almost as much of an obsessive about it as I am about Liverpool Football Club, but music snobs are the most tiresome and abhorrent creatures. I cannot abide them. You like Justin Bieber? Excellent. You have a secret passion for pan-pipe versions of pop standards? Okay, great! All I ask is that you don't make me partake. Live and let live, I say, but when the aforementioned daughter brandishes her Glee CD in my car, it requires all of my paternal reserves of affection to endure it. That's real love friends!

So, when the official website published one of those fluffy pieces about how Carra was selecting the pre-match and half-time tunes, naturally my curiosity was peaked. What kind of music would Carra like, I wondered, whilst bearing in mind that Steven Gerrard, two years Carra's junior, long ago expressed a fondness for Phil Collins. Remarkably, or perhaps not, I guessed three of the five artistes. Before I inform you of our defensive legend's pop-picks, see if you can beat my tally.

It's deliciously tempting to ponder poor Jamie poring over his iTunes library in an effort to come up with a quintet of songs that have the right blend of vigorous beat and rousing lyrics to coax an extra ounce of performance from his colleagues, but the reality is probably far more prosaic. There is, however, some scope for analysis when one considers the song titles chosen by the veteran.

With a pleasing predictability, the vice-captain's opener is In My Life by The Beatles. He then throws us a googly in the form of Manc swagger-merchants, Oasis, with Don't Look Back In Anger before concluding pre-match preparation with Bruce Springteen's Dancing In The Dark. Now, the biographical relevance of the first two is clear enough but one hopes that QPR will not benefit from any benighted boogeying.

At half-time Carragher goes for a blend of contemporary(ish) and vintage. First up is The Killers' Mr. Brightside and our hero's tenure as mixmaster concludes with The Boxer by Paul Simon. With his emphasis on big anthemic choruses and catch-all populism, Jamie is pleasingly predictable and characteristically cagey. No shrill death-metal or tinny dubstep for him. Our retiring legend eschews indie sensiblities and the often unseemly vacuity of R n' B. Give him a shouty chorus and he's made up. One can only wonder what Jonjo Shelvey will make of it all.

Driving to work this morning, I found myself ecstatically punching the air with moist eyes as I listened, for the first time, to a gorgeous, instrumental chord progression on Jubilee Street from Nick Cave's new album. I was momentarily transported to a different plane, intoxicated and ebullient, inspired and rapt. As I absorbed its beauty, I realised that the unique blend of emotions I was experiencing have only ever been replicated for me by Liverpool Football Club and its players.

I genuinely hope that, as Jamie Carragher prepares for his last match as a Redman, he is free, for at least a moment to bask in the poignancy of his musical choices and that they add a little extra significance to the occasion for him. His contribution to our happiness has been immense. The least he deserves is an inappropriate urge to dad-dance to the musical stylings of The Boss before taking to the Anfield turf for a final time.

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