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You Only Sing When You're Winning

20 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 10 September 2011

With the idea of an audience singalong becoming enshrined not only in the Proms last night traditions but also in the concert programme itself, Simon Townley tells the story of one of tonight's chosen numbers. 'You'll Never Walk alone' might have started as a Broadway hit but its hold on the national psyche has more to do with its emergence in the 1960s and 70s as the anthem of Liverpool Football club's famous Kop, the embankment at one end of their Anfield ground.
Simon recalls how, as a budding young pianist and serious minded classical music enthusiast the power of the Anfield anthem was thrust upon him while on an exchange visit to Paris. Billetted with a family of fanatical French football fans Simon made his name by predicting that their beloved St Etienne FC would come off second best on a visit to Liverpool for an important European cup tie. They did, but it was the crowd singing that astonished the young Simon.
Why 'You'll never walk alone' worked as a singalong piece, how its impact reflected the mordant wit of the football terrace and why it's appropriate that it should be picked up by a Prom audience as a piece that tells us as much about the singers as the song, is the theme of Simon's talk.


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