lørdag 20. august 2011

Nottingham Forest is my rock'n'roll!

”It’s the one and only team that can realize the dream in my soul, it’s my rock’n’roll”, Norwegian Nottingham Forest supporter Njaal Helle sang in the summer of 1979. Brian Clough’s team had won the European Champions Cup for the first time, and Helle wanted to celebrate the event in his own way. He recorded two songs about his beloved team.

”It was my friend and photographer Arne Furseth who originally had the idea to write a couple of songs about Nottingham Forest”, Njaal Helle, now a USA resident, explains. And inspired by the European Cup win, the twosome wrote the songs Nottingham Forest Is My Rock’n’roll and Nottingham Forest Is in My Soul.

In July, Helle recorded the songs with top Norwegian producer Arve Sigvaldsen. The single was released in due time for the new season . ”I went to Nottingham with my single to meet the fans”, Helle says, ”I wanted to know what was important to them”. Helle received a hearty welcome by both fans and players, and his single attracted much attention. ”We had a lot of fun with the songs in England,” he says. ”We were on BBC radio og TV. BBC Sunday Night Sports even used Nottingham Forest is My Rock’n’roll as an intro to the show. We also represented Norway in the radio program European Pop Jury.”

Nottingham Forest Is My Rock’n’roll is a catchy pop song, clearly inspired by Roxy Music and Seventies glam rock. Halfway into the song, Helle and his backing singers start a terrace chant sequence, and an excited radio reporter sees record signing Trevor Francis score the winning goal in the final against Malmö. The song builds to a climax by a very infective chorus.

However, it’s Nottingham Forest Is in My Soul on the b-side that is Helle’s masterpiece. Driven by Helle’s vocals and a sparkling horn section, the song is an excellent display of soul and disco inspirered pop. A less typical football song than the a-side, it musicwise gives associations to Saturday Night Fever and New York rather than football from the Midlands, but Helle’s lyrics leaves no doubt of what this really is about:

That’s right, I’m going down to the City Ground
That’s right, I’m gonna see them play
I know, it’s gonna be a show so pretty ...

”At Nottingham Forest’s home games, 40000 fans sing along with Njaal Helles hymn,” the ad said when his debut album Njaal Helle was released the same autumn. The album, which included the single, was very well received by the music critics. ”Norwegian debut album of the year,” Norway’s leading music monthy wrote. Unfortunately, his record company went bankrupt while Helle recorded his second album. “Maybe our album was too expensive to produce?” he wonders ironically.

Helle has worked as a photographer since he moved to the USA in the Eighties. He still dabbles in music, and hopes to make new songs available from his web site later this year.

But to what extent does he follow Nottingham Forest and football in general today? ”I’ve always been a footbal fan, but it has become more distant after I moved to the USA,” he says. Helle has not visited Nottingham since 1979, but he’s not completely forgotten among the fans. ”Yes, I receive the occasional e-mail about the songs,” he confirms.

”I think Helle’s single is one of the very best Forest songs ever, but unfortunately, I very seldom hear it played now,” says Roar Guvaag, a Norwegian supporter with frequent visits to City Ground. Bjørn Sundfær, secretary of the Scandinavian Nottingham Forest Supporters Club, thinks Forest’s drop from the Premier League to League One is one of the reasons. “Football songs are played when there’s something to celebrate. And there has not been much to celebrate at the City Ground over the last Fifteen years …”

Njaal Helle’s Nottingham Forest songs have been on high rotation on our mp3 player since they were rediscovered on an old tape a few weeks ago. Nottingham Forest Is in My Soul, in particular, has stood the test of time remarkably well, and beats most Norwegian Seventies pop music by a mile. And with Nottingham Forest heading for The Championship, and more optimism in the club than for years, should we hope for a revival for Njaal Helle and The Nottingham Forest Songs?

Published in Norwegian soccer monthly FireFireTo and the Scandinavian Nottingham Forest supporters' club magazine Skogvokteren in 2007. You can listen to the songs at www.nottinghamsongs.webs.com

August 2011 update: The Rudi London Story

On the 23rd of May 1999, Njaal Helle came up with a brilliant idea for a movie: The Operator Is Calling. First, he looked for a cool hero name. Since Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani was his favorite mayor and Jack London a favorite author, the choice came by itself: Rudi London. As we all know, writing is a scary thing; thus it took Njaal years to develop the storyline. Then his 3 Angels sent him a message: why waste time writing a movie script when you can write a book? OK, a book then. During the book conversion process, Njaal was told his first name would be nearly impossible to pronounce for potential English reading customers - just looking at his name on web sites such as amazon, itunes, etc., could be rightfully scary - so he was told to come up with a simpler name. And his last name, Helle, was close to a cussword amongst the English speaking purchasers of his upcoming books, and therefore a decision was made: The author had to be reborn.

One bright and shiny day, someone with real vision came to Njaal and said: ”You need to be Rudi London!” And the rebirth was complete.

In 2009, The Operator Is Calling was released with Michael being the name of the hero and Elvis being his trustworthy companion. And the rest is told.

LINK: http://www.theoperatoriscalling.com/

Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudi_London

Author: http://www.rudilondon.com

1 kommentar:

  1. The Nottingham Forest songs are now on YouTube :)