Ah. The pregame. It’s almost here. One of the best/most excruciating parts of college football is the anticipation.
For most, that means Saturday afternoon revelry: Reuniting with old buddies at a tailgate, reliving the past, talking fantasy football, and taking in the *ahem* scenery. Those are good times.
But for the true expats among us, marooned in weird and foreign territories where Between The Hedges and Toomer’s Corner are easier to reach than Holy Dickson, it means something different.
It means sojourns across the Dixie mornings into the foreign lands of Knoxville, Nashville, Columbia, Auburn, Tuscaloosa and Starkville – all of which can easily be reached by kickoff by many of us with no need for a hotel as long as the Hogs avoid the dreaded Jefferson Pilot time slot (yeah, ESPN Network, whatever. If Dave Neal’s in the booth, it’s still JP to me.)
Which leaves plenty of time for preparation. For others, that includes imbibing wholly unsafe amounts of barley, hops and ominous amber liquids. But not for me. (Hi mom/wife/unborn offspring).
I'm not anti-highball, but without a clear head come kickoff, how am I going to be able to properly break down coverages from row ZZ and effectively second guess our defensive schemes at halftime?
For the hardcore among us, the pregame is the time to get our minds right. We’ve got zone-running schemes, pass protections and special teams to consider.
And we need a soundtrack.
This is serious business. You can’t just throw on the Hogwild marching band CD you got in your stocking last year and roll up into Tuscaloosa blaring John Phillips Sousa tunes. Those are fine, but you need some balance via power chords and bass.
The Gameday playlist is a curious beast. It must inspire one (or preferably all) of the following: goosebumps, swagger and the urge to punch inanimate objects for no good reason other than a really sweet cymbal crash. Also, it helps if you can mentally edit a Scorcese-caliber highlight film in your head while listening to it.
To that end, I present a solid starter kit to enhance your Gameday roadtrip/tailgate.
NOTE: This is how I roll, but in an era no longer bound by the 80-minute limitations of the CD-R, there’s always room for more.
The Fight Song | The Razorback Marching Band
Gotta start the day right. True story: One time, when I was on the way to a game at War Memorial with a couple buddies, some dude called in to the pregame radio show and had his toddlers sing the fight song on the air. It got so dusty in the cab of that pick-up, I had to hang my head out the passenger side window to hide my sappy bastardness. Maybe I’m an easy target, but preschoolers singing AAAA-A-R-K-A-N-S-A-S will get me every time – that, Rudy, and Paul Rhoads.
Lux Aeterna | Clint Mansell
Probably best known as the theme from Requiem For A Dream, but if you can purge the image of Jared Leto’s withered limb from your brain and replace it with Jarius Wright wrecking the Aggies, it’s a helluva hype song. Slow, meditative, building. It gets us ready for what’s to come.
Kickstart My Heat | Motley Crue
Nothing like tacit endorsement of cocaine abuse in the opening lyric to really set the tone. Or maybe Vince Neil is just really into hot rods? A question for another day. What matters for us here is that this hair metal relic is pure adrenaline. When it comes on my treadmill playlist, there’s not a middle school girls cross country record that’s safe.
Hooty Hoo | Tru
Proof that lyrics can matter so little. "You da Captain, I’m tha crunch, you got that dinner, I got lunch." Pretty fierce. But you know what? It doesn’t matter even a little bit, because this beat is so menacing by the time the chorus drops you’ll be ready to gutpunch an old lady if it would mean an extra first down in the third quarter.
Enter Sandman | Metallica
When people ask for more from the DWR atmosphere, this is what they’re talking about.
Mr. Man | Pride Parade
Turn up the volume, roll down the windows, and hold on. Guaranteed to blow up the sundresses and shake the leaves from the trees.
Big Things Poppin’ (Do It) | T.I.
Truth told, I could just do the whole list with T.I. and be good.
Duel of the Iron Mic | GZA
Boost your street cred by including this track off the greatest hip-hop album ever.
Search and Destroy | Iggy & The Stooges
Boost your hipster cred by including this track from the greatest punk band ever.
Real Big | Mannie Fresh
This song sums up the SEC ethos. Plus, it fulfills the Cash Money quota.
We Will Rock You | Queen
Time to start breaking down the tailgate. Kickoff is nigh. And don't tell me it's played out. No respectable playlist of crunk can be complete without at least one Freddie Mercury cut. If you’re worried about the homophobic barbs from the Ole Miss fratties, include this one instead.
Hell’s Bells | AC/DC
It’s getting serious now.
Gonna Fly Now | Bill Conti
The Rocky Theme. Game time.
For the postgame.