Hockey and power chords go together like beer and arena junk food.
Plenty of sports make liberal use of “jock rock” — ESPN and Tommy Boy Records combined to put out a couple of compilation albums a couple of decades ago celebrating such arena favorites as Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll (Part 2) and ubiquitous NBA intro Sirius by the Alan Parsons Project. The New England Patriots, for reasons known only to a couple of people, piped in The Outfield’s Your Love at a key moment of Sunday’s game. (They lost, surely as a protest over the lyrics’ callous attitude toward one-night stands.)
But hockey does it best. Arenas are enclosed environments, and hockey is a fast, occasionally violent game played by people who are usually missing the odd tooth.
Missing teeth are explicitly mentioned in a new entry in the hockey repertoire — The Enforcer, by Canadian band Monster Truck. The tune won praise from Canadian commentator and ugly suit enthusiast Don Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada.
Cherry is a big advocate of keeping fighting in hockey, calling its opponents “nerds,” so it’s little surprise he’d like a tune about dropping the gloves and knocking out teeth. But even if you’re one of the nerds, you have to give credit to Monster Truck for hitting the familiar themes of hockey rock — a heavy shuffle beat, a good sing-along hook — without sounding like too much of a retread.
Sometimes, hockey teams can surprise you with an offbeat choice that works. Back in the late 1990s, the Washington Capitals used Marilyn Manson’s The Beautiful People. It worked far better than some of their choices in ensuing years. They change it up each year — sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Metallica’s sedate Nothing Else Matters for the postseason? No wonder they keep losing in the playoffs.
Hockey also lends itself to some laid-back tunes. Sing along with The Good Old Hockey Game, which used to be played at Capitals games:
Then there’s a novelty track co-written by Warren Zevon and sports columnist Mitch Albom, with Zevon fan David Letterman shouting in the background. (For some reason, in the version here, Paul Shaffer takes over the role.) Like Monster Truck, Zevon and Albom focused on the enforcer — in this case, a tough guy from rural Canada who dreams of scoring goals but is much more adept at making a living with his fists. It’s fun and poignant:
Other sports generally don’t get such eloquent tunes. Soccer gets a lot of songs about passion from overseas, and my Twitter followers passed along All I Want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit and a track by, of all bands, New Order. American football gets some country songs.
And when all else fails, hockey has the organ. The Patriots can’t top that.