Liverpool vs. West Ham Match Preview: You’ll Never Walk Alone vs. I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles

Aug 28

Liverpool hosts West Ham on Saturday.  Each team will field 11 players who will ultimately determine the outcome of the match.  There will be a lot of analysis over those 22 players and which side has the stronger squad.  And that’s fine.

But the real question, one that will continue to linger well after the final whistle on Saturday, is which club has the better anthem?

Liverpool’s You’ll Never Walk Alone, or West Ham’s I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles?

It is somewhat an impossible question to answer given how much each of these songs means to the fans from each club.  And they are both great songs and arguably the best two songs/anthems in the Premier League.  But since they are the two best, it only reasonable to debate which is better.

1. Lyrics:

Bubbles:

I’m dreaming dreams, I’m scheming schemes,
I’m building castles high.
They’re born anew, their days are few,
Just like a sweet butterfly.
And as the daylight is dawning,
They come again in the morning!

When shadows creep, when I’m asleep,
To lands of hope I stray!
Then at daybreak, when I awake,
My bluebird flutters away.
Happiness, you seem so near me,
Happiness, come forth and cheer me!

Chorus

I’m forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air,
They fly so high, nearly reach the sky,
Then like my dreams they fade and die.
Fortune’s always hiding,
I’ve looked everywhere,
I’m forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.

Bit of a downer of a song.  It starts with such hope and promise of dreaming dreams and flying like a butterfly.  Then reality hits and the bluebird flies away.  Like our dreams, bubbles float in the sky only to eventually fade and die?  Geez West Ham, can you be any more pessimistic?  This song is fitting for cold, dark, depressed London weather.

YNWA:

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

[Repeat]

Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone

You’ll never walk
You’ll never walk alone

Hard to argue against this one. Instead of dreams being crushed, it’s telling you to persevere and eventually you’ll make it through the storm.  Which is perfect for Liverpool and its fans given the massive title drought storm they have been in for decades.  At least they aren’t walking alone in the storm.

Winner: YNWA

2. Music/Melody

Bubbles:

Bubbles is at a bit of a disadvantage because the original song came out in 1919.  It was a hit when it first came out but by today’s standards it’s not terribly exciting.  But even for clearly sounding like it came out a century ago and not being terribly exciting, it’s not as near of a downer as YNWA.

YNWA: There are two versions we could use for YNWA, neither of which helps them here.

Here is the original from the musical Carousel. The lyrics are hopeful, but the song is quite the downer when you realize it is sung right after someone dies.

Here is the version that the Liverpool fans adopted by Gerry and the Pacemakers.  It’s not much better.  It doesn’t come on the heels of someone dying but you practically need a pacemaker to keep yourself alive.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful song, just easily puts you to sleep.

Winner: Bubbles

3. Song History

Bubbles:

From wikipedia: “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” was introduced to the club by former manager Charlie Paynter in the late twenties. A player, Billy J. “Bubbles” Murray who played for the local Park School had a resemblance to the boy in the “Bubbles” painting by Millais used in a Pears soap commercial of the time. Headmaster Cornelius Beal began singing the tune “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” with amended lyrics when Park players played well.”

YNWA:

Also from wiki:  The song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is the club’s anthem and has been sung by the Anfield crowd since the early 1960s. It has since gained popularity among fans of other clubs around the world. The song’s title adorns the top of the Shankly Gates, which were unveiled on 2 August 1982 in memory of former manager Bill Shankly. The “You’ll Never Walk Alone” portion of the Shankly Gates is also reproduced on the club’s crest.”

Hard to beat YNWA here.  West Ham was singing Bubbles for 40 years before Liverpool found YNWA.  But Liverpool really adopted YNWA even going so far as including the words in their stadium and incorporating it into their crest.  Shorter history, but bigger impact in that short history.

Winner: YNWA

4. Contribution to Stadium Image:

Bubbles:

YNWA:

This one is really tough.  When Liverpool fans sing the song, they all hold up their scarves. It’s a cool image, but every club has a scarf so it’s nothing new or unique to have a scarf and hold it up.

Liverpool did though take the lyrics and incorporate it into the stadium structure.  Major points there. It’s a great visual and image, but it’s only contributing to one area of the stadium.  Doesn’t do much to the overall image.

The bubbles on the other hand, while childish, are pretty awesome.  It’s unique and actually does create a great image.  This one really is a toss up, but the child in me fancies the bubbles over the added architecture and I’m giving the slight nod to Bubbles.

Winner: Bubbles

5. Final Considerations/Overall Winner:

Bubbles really is a fantastic song.  It’s also a great juxtaposition that is it sung by West Ham fans.  A song about bubbles being sung by notoriously rough fans.  It really adds to the experience when you think about the people that are singing this song:

It’s also just enjoyable. Even though the message isn’t as upbeat, the fans singing it are and it makes it very positive and entertaining.

But as much as Bubbles means to West Ham and its fans, it does feel more like just a song.  I know it’s their song, but it has a feeling of ending there.

Which is what makes YNWA different from Bubbles and most every other song.  It’s not as exciting or entertaining of a song or anthem, but it really has taken on a deeper meaning at Liverpool and transcended from being just a song to part of their identity.  When you factor in the Hillsborough tragedy into the equation, then it’s taken to a completely new emotional level.

All chants and songs unify their fans together, but YNWA appears to bond them to one another.

Both songs are fantastic.  I’d love for the chance to sing Bubbles with West Ham fans.  It would be an experience I know I’d never forget.

But if I had a gun to my head and could only pick one, even though I’m scared to death to upset West Ham fans, I’d probably pick YNWA.

Overall Winner: YNWA