It’s the only song in everyone’s heads right now - but how did David Baddiel and Frank Skinner write their football classic? Well, like this…
It’s being memed left, right and centre, sung across the nation at every possible moment and - admit it - it’s going round your head this very instance.
I’m talking, of course, about ‘Three Lions’ which, despite being 22 years old, and the hurt now stretched out to 52 years, has once again caught fire as England have progressed through to the quarter-final of the World Cup, becoming absolutely unescapable.
We’ve written on the science behind why ‘Three Lions’ is the perfect football song but moments of genius like that don’t always come fully-formed, or arrive out of the sky. No, sometimes you have to work at it, to refine and to perfect, to go down dead ends and come back round. To earnestly toil as true artists do in search of magnificence.
And what glory it would be to have been a fly on the wall during those writing sessions: to be there to witness this historic work take shape. If only we could see a ‘behind the scenes’ of the Lightning Seeds, David Baddiel and Frank Skinner taking their creative journey.
Well, luckily, it turns out that we can do just that.
Back in 1996, the record label RCA released The Beautiful Game - the official album of Euro ‘96. I bought it myself (with my own pocket money) and it’s sitting at home somewhere in a dusty cupboard, but I’ve never forgotten it.
It was an absolutely brilliant record, coming as it did at as Britpop was in full swing, loosely themed around football but most importantly around showcasing the best British acts of the time. Highlights included Britpop anthems, ‘Alright’ by Supergrass, ‘Parklife’ (of course) by Blur and Pulp’s Disco 2000, as well as a somewhat-forgotten, but absolutely amazing football song in the form of Black Grape’s ‘England’s Irie’.
It wasn’t all upbeat bangers though. Massive Attack featured the reworked version of ‘Eurochild’, from 1994’s Protection, rechristened ‘Eurochild Ninety 6’, one of the greatest songs of their magnificent career, while Olive contributed the laidback groove of ‘This Time’.
There was an updated mix of New Order’s ‘World In Motion, the Black Cats mix of Collapsed Lung’s ‘Eat My Goal’ and a bit of rave from The Shamen’s ‘Indica (On Grass Mix)’.
It was a genuinely brilliant album that I played to death and, of course, its finale, track 22, was the final version of ‘Three Lions’.
But also on that album were two hilarious skits, tracks 1 and 12, performed by Baddiel and Skinner - at the height of their Fantasy Football fame - showing them trying to write ‘Three Lions’ - and it could have been a very different song.
I don’t think I’ve listened to these for 22 years, but they’re every bit as funny as I remember.
Here’s Part One:
And here’s Part Two:
Somehow, we don’t think the folk version would have been quite so successful as the final, Lightning Seeds-powered one.
You want to hear the original don’t you? Go on then. All together now: “It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming….”
Superb, I’m off to play The Beautiful Game on repeat for the rest of the week.