Wednesday, 15 April 2015
Oliver: Johan Cruyff - Oei Oei Oei [Dat Was Me Weer Ein Loei] (7 December 1991)
Throughout late 1991, football loving John Peel played numerous selections from the debut release of Exotica Records. Bend It '91 was a collection of football songs recorded through the years by players, commentators, clubs and bands. The majority of them were as terrible as you might expect, indeed Dutch football genius, Johan Cruyff's solitary 45 is a pretty abysmal piece of music unless you take it on any terms other than what it is. So why have I selected it for inclusion on the metaphorical mixtape?
Part of it is down to my respect for Cruyff. I wasn't even alive during his pomp years as a player - 1974 and all that - but if you have any interest in football and its history, the figure of the man in orange, with the big nose looms large. He also gave one of the finest pieces of analysis I ever heard when working for the BBC at Euro 2000 after England had been eliminated after conceding a late penalty in a tournament in which their general pattern of play had been to give possession away as quickly as possible thanks to hoofing. When it was put to Cruyff that England's panic had been down to them worrying about protecting their lead, he simply replied, "If you keep the ball and pass to each other, then you protect your lead. Simple."
There's also the fact that when he recorded this in 1969, a mixture of nerves and poor technique led to the teetotal Cruyff accepting a few drinks in order to get him singing less self consciously. And it works, with Cruyff honking away freely over the Oom-Pah background. Cliche alert warning - as is obligatory in all Oom-Pah/Schlager tunes, the last minute is heralded by a slowed down reprise of the brass refrain and the title line.
Finally, I'm amazed to discover that the song has nothing to do with football at all. Instead, as this article from When Saturday Comes reveals, it's about accompanying an unlucky friend on a night out to the boxing, the pub (which Cruyff wouldn't have been drinking in anyway, unless he had a single to make) and back to his mate's home where the thing that links all three is his friend getting beaten up. The song translates as Oh Oh Oh (Yet Another Blow). Try as I might, and even leaving aside the theory that it was a 1969 thing, I can't come up with a logical reason for how Cruyff came to be singing this song. Nonetheless, it can be seen as part of a continuum in which football stars and music got into bed with each other; one which exists to this very day.
From Dutch Oom-Pah to London grime, a shorter journey than you'd think.
Videos courtesy of top401969 (Cruyff) and officiallordofthemics (Wright-Phillips)