Subversive disco? Subversive disco!
Coming out of a commercial break midway through the third quarter of the Bills/Titans game, Monday night football the producers ran a segment showing various ESPN pundits predicting that Buffalo would make it to the next Super Bowl. The clip was accompanied by an instrumental music track with a funky retro sound.
It turned out that ESPN was playing an enhanced, lyricless version of “The Foggy Dew.” There is a story behind the music. It is a centuries-old Irish folk tune and one of the most revered and solemn rebel songs to come out of Ireland’s fight for independence from England. And here it was, playing on a national network just hours after Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
It’s enough to make you think someone on the network wanted to make a statement.
The traditional song, the lyrics of which are generally attributed to a County Antrim priest named Charles O’Neill, was written as a eulogy to the unarmed and outmatched Irishmen who flocked to Dublin in April 1916 to take over, as the lyrics say , ‘Britannia’s Huns with their long-range weapons. The violent rebellion, based at the city’s main post office, was put down in a matter of days by forces loyal to King George V, grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II, and many Prominent Irish rebel leaders were later killed by British firing squads.
Sample of a couplet from a song written by O’Neill, who knew several of the Irish rebel martyrs: “The world gazed in deep wonder at those men fearless but few / Who endured the fight that the light of liberty should shine forth.” through misty dew.”
The Easter Rising and its bloody aftermath brought world attention to the atrocities the British had long been committing on the island, and likely hastened the formation of the free Irish republic for which the rebels had fought and died. However, in exchange for the founding of the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and King George V claimed six Irish counties to form a new country, Northern Ireland, to add to their empire. To this day, as anyone who has followed the Brexit debacle knows, Northern Ireland remains under the rule of the United Kingdom. Among the reams of wicked lines in the king’s 1921 Belfast speech celebrating Northern Ireland’s addition to his empire: “I call on all Irish to pause, to extend the hand of tolerance and conciliation, to forgive and forget.”
How are you?: No.
“The Foggy Dew” has gotten a lot of exposure through sports over the years. Former MMA supernova Conor McGregor, for example, used Sinead O’Connor’s version of the war waltz as his ring entrance music at the height of his career. The man from Dublin even imported the incomparable Irish diva to sing it in person at a 2015 UFC event in Las Vegas. The Seán Heuston 1916 Society, a Dublin-based Irish nationalist group, criticized McGregor in 2015 as a hypocrite for appearing in public with a poppy, a flower that for the English has long been a symbol of remembrance of dead British soldiers. , while also using a righteous rebel song so important to his countrymen as his entrance music: “He comes out with the 1916 song ‘The Foggy Dew’ and then uses a poppy that recalls the men who fought to kill and suppress them and the ideals who they fought for.”
McGregor’s response to his critics: “Fuck you and the queen.”
Last year at the Tokyo Olympics, Irish boxer Kellie Harrington also used “The Foggy Dew” as her entrance music to win a gold medal in the lightweight division.
And yes, the song even has a past with the NFL media. The instrumental version of “The Foggy Dew” used by MNF was recorded in the 1970s by Sam Spence, a composer and arranger hired by NFL Films in 1966. Spence’s performance appears on a compilation of other tunes from the NFL Music Library used for the reel soundtrack featured called “NFL Decades: The Groovy ’70s.” (Here’s a clip from an old NFL Films documentary about bill walsh.) And “The Foggy Dew” was featured in a Bud Light TV ad to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl in 2016, which was also the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising that inspired the song.
For anyone familiar with the song and its ability to uplift the Irish, and considering all the media coverage the death of King George V’s granddaughter has had over the past two weeks, it would be hard to miss the choice. of “The Foggy Dew” as a fluke. However, it’s no coincidence how ESPN depicts the queen’s funeral/Irish rebel song nexus in the MNF broadcasting
ESPN music director Kevin Wilson did not respond to a request for comment about the use of “Foggy Dew” on the day the queen was brought down. But an ESPN source told me that the segment on Super Bowl predictions that “The Foggy Dew” topped occurred well before game day. The package was originally conceived by network producers during the Buffalo Bills-Los Angeles Rams season-opening game. the MNF The production team correctly predicted that the dominant performance would lead the Bills to be a part of any Super Bowl conversation when ESPN got the Bills for Week 2 of MNF, and decided to pre-produce a package around it. The melody used for the segment’s soundtrack, the source said, was drawn from songs in the network’s music library that have been licensed for such use. And at the time the piece was put together, no one on the network knew what date the queen’s funeral would take place, the source said.
“It was pure coincidence,” an ESPN spokesperson said.
It’s okay. So the idea of MNF The segment that included “The Foggy Dew” came on the day the Bills beat the Rams. That was on September 8, 2022. Let’s see… Did anything else happen that day? Correct. The queen died.
Subversive disco? Yes, subversive disco.
Disclosure: The author grew up listening to and singing “The Foggy Dew” a lot and is still turned on by the tune.