How Fat Les Built Jerusalem
Alex James on Blake's Great Poem and Thoughts of God.


You'd think I got up in the morning wanting to write football songs. There was the irrepressibly up-for-it Keith, saying "we've gotta do another one." Telstar Records were penciling in release dates. Pretty soon I was walking up thinking I'd better write that tune.

"Vindaloo" was easy, believe me. Roast potatoes take longer than that did. Half a terrace chant and "we're gonna score one more on you" - all on one note.

There aren't many places where people all sing together, like they do at football matches. Terrace chants are a kind of folk music. My favourites are the "son of the father one" about Teddy Teddy Sheringham, and the ones about Loverly Wolver-ham-per-ton.

I was getting quite knotted trying to write an all-embracing elegy to La Patrie when I realised someone had done it already.

The poem "Jerusalem" had it all: authority, the weight of history, majesty, epic grandeur and a great tune. What dignity, what power. Sorted. This isn't just a football tune, this is the new national anthem. As ennobling and invigorating as a spiritual sauna.

And so it was two weeks later we were in a cathedral in Hampstead making the most expensive single ever. An 85-piece orchestra, five choirs, drummers everywhere, programmers, arrangers, conductor, engineers, producers, Michael Barrymore, even.

A bigger cast than Songs of Praise. How nice it must have been for Mr. Blake to invoke the deity and be taken seriously. The song got me thinking about God again, which is something I've been putting off. Only wackos talk about God, usually after a spell in rehab. I can only sense a feminine presence that manifests itself in the harmony of things. We embraced old school authority - I mean, it's my old school song - we embraced it, and it became our own and God's on our side. We will not be able to live in the present again until England win a major football tournament.

Then we can forget the Sixties and its shite architecture and be free to roam the here & now.

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