The best mix-tapes tell a story. Collected songs that may, at first blush, appear to be a disparate hash, reveal over repeated listening a story that’s new and solely unique to this group. The mix-tape as an idea exists, then, in the popular consciousness as a letter of sorts from the creator to the recipients of the mix-tape. It is an intimate communication via music - a less obnoxious singing telegram, if you will. The story I wish to communicate to you is one of anxiety.
Tomorrow, Liverpool Football Club will take the pitch 10 days after their last match; a 5-nil thrashing of Porto in the first leg of their Champions League tie. In the time that’s elapsed, it’s absolutely understandable for most Reds fans to bask in the glow of that complete performance and look towards the weekend’s match with deep anticipation regardless of opponent. Unfortunately, I am not most Reds fans.
Lining up against us is David Moyes and a much-improved West Ham United than the one helmed by Slavan Bilic. And despite a recent down turn in results that sees them winless since their January 14th FA Cup replay victory over Shrewsbury, the Hammers find themselves in 12th place with 5 teams between them and the drop. Secure in that position despite only 4 points separating them and 18th place Swansea, because West Ham would not only need to bungle their results, but see all 5 teams raise their games simultaneously.
And it’s that sense of sudden infusion of a semblance competence coupled with the Hammers generally being a tough draw over my time as an LFC fan that draws on my anxiety. You see, I want to be a believer in the invulnerability of our squad. That our attacking verve - having dissected the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Hoffenheim, and Porto over this system - is generally unimpeachable. And that we’ve got things at least improved at the back with Karius’ shaggy top-knot between the sticks and Big Virgil saving points and potentially resurrecting Dejan Lovren’s LFC career.
My mind wants to fixate on that unknowable thing - the potential for calamity being so much more tantalizing to ruminate on. It’s there that I get stuck, worrying about bogey teams and trap games. And when I get on that infernal loop, I’ve often found that the way out is music.
So, here’s my anxiety-to-believer playlist that’ll carry me to Saturday. The songs that’ll hopefully bring me to a place where I can fully appreciate the moment when I see those heroes in red shirts playing this beautiful game and doing it oh so very well. And, maybe, we’ll get to celebrate them taking home all three points to boot.
Feel free to share your favorite pre-match tracks/songs that are helping to get you through the day in the comments. YNWA!