With the NHL lockout firmly in place and both sides entrenched for what may be a long, drawn out battle, we’re taking this opportunity to explore the musical side of the National Hockey League. Each week, we’ll see what happens when hockey and music collide. Join us as we Rock Out for the Lockout.
Warren Zevon – “Hit Somebody”
Kevin Smith, the filmmaking mastermind behind such works as Clerks and Dogma (as well as some more-forgettable films) is working on one final theatrical work. It will be his last. The movie? Hit Somebody, based on the Warren Zevon song.
Smith described the song, admittedly one of his favorites, as being:
“…about a goon, a hockey goon. It’s this very wonderful, soaring, moving story that’s also bittersweet and very, very funny, about a hockey player who just wants to play hockey, who loves hockey so much, but just sucks at it. The only thing he can do to be on a team is just be the enforcer, just be the guy who goes out there and beats the [snot] out of people.”
The song’s co-writer, Mitch Albom, calls it “a song about a hockey goon who has to beat people up, but doesn’t really have the heart for it.” He finds a spot in the league because of his fists, but he wants to do more. He dreams of one day scoring a goal… and (spoiler alert) one day he does.
The song was a collaboration between Warren Zevon and writer Mitch Albom, included on Zevon’s 2002 album My Ride’s Here.
Warren Zevon is best known for his 1978 hit “Werewolves of London.” (Mercifully, Zevon passed away in 2003, before Kid Rock would sample it on his painful-hit “All Summer Long.”)
Mitch Albom is an award-winning sports columnist with the Detroit Free Press, television and radio host, and novelist. Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet In Heaven were his biggest hits; combined, they spent 300 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
Albom talked a bit about how this partnership came together on his website:
“This song came about when my friend Warren Zevon and I were talking one day. He said, “You know, I’d like to do a sports song that nobody has done before.” And I said, “Hockey.” And he said, “What?” And I said “I can’t think of a single hockey song.” And he said, “Great! You should write me one!
We left it at that. A few weeks later, I had an idea for a funny song about a big, goonish hockey player who is hired for his fighting but dreams of being a scorer. I wrote some lyrics and some music and sent it to Warren. A few weeks later, I was out in California, and Warren and I sat with a case of Mountain Dew (he loved that stuff) and wrote some music and laughed. Then we went home. We left at it that, one of those ideas that come and go.
A few months later, Warren he called me from a recording studio, where Paul Shaffer and that whole band (The Late Show’s CBS Orchestra, formerly the World’s Most Dangerous Band) were in session. And he said, “We’re recording the hockey song.” And I said, “What? You’re RECORDING it?” And he said, “Why did you think I asked you to write it? To read it?”
And that was that.”
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the vocal stylings of David Letterman on the chorus. Sadly, Dave only appears on the album. Paul Shaffer inexplicably filled in on this live performance – on the Late Show, no less, with Dave sitting just across the room.
As far as the movie version goes, Smith is collaborating with the Albom on the script. In an interview with MTV, he said:
“The song’s been one of my favorites since I heard it and I’ve always seen this whole movie behind. I got in touch with Mitch because Warren Zevon has passed on and we started talking about it and he was into it and into what I was kind of pitching.”
Smith’s film version of the song takes place in the rough-and-tumble era of the 1970s, when the Bullies were breaking noses on Broad Street and Mike Milbury was beating Rangers fans with their own shoes. As Smith put it, “during the last gasp of the goon era of hockey, when it was all about fighting.” The movie is slated to premiere at Sundance in 2013. If you can’t wait until then, here’s a flashback for you:
One thing still up for debate is the end of the song.
In his final season on his final night,
Buddy and a Finn goon were pegged for a fight.
Thirty seconds left, the puck took a roll…
And suddenly Buddy had a shot on goal.
The goalie committed; Buddy picked his spot.
Twenty years of waiting went into that shot.
The fans jumped up. The Finn jumped too,
And cold-cocked Buddy on his follow-through.
The big man crumbled, But he felt alright.
‘Cause the last thing he saw was the flashing red light.
He saw that heavenly light.
Lyrics courtesy SongMeanings.net
So, was it heavenly because of how beautiful it was? Or was it because he died?
Did that farm boy from Canada ever get back up?