Monday, August 4, 2008

Folk Music Meets Football

I don't know if anyone has viewed the latest Reebok commercial featuring a score of NFL players including the Manning brothers. But it is one of the two best commercials I have probably ever viewed. This is due to the choice of music utilized in the commercial. It is an obscure folk song simply titled Train Song which was recorded in 1966 by British singer named Vashti Bunyan. ( The gently arranged ballad serves as a soundtrack for the impending arrival of the NFL season. What an extraordinary juxtaposition between folk music and football. If you can't enough of the song you can see the full length version here (

When I heard this song, it reminded me of the Volkswagen commercial in 2000 which featured the Nick Drake's 1972 song Pink Moon. ( This commercial brought incredible exposure to Nick Drake on this side of the Atlantic that he never enjoyed in all too brief life. Drake died in 1974 at the age of 26.

Both songs and their singers have an ethereal quality to them. However, unlike Nick Drake, Vashti Bunyan is alive and well and enjoying a renaissance after being absent from the music scene for over three decades.

One can rail against commercialization and the commodification of music. But if car commercials and shoe commercials featuring NFL players are what it takes for a broad audience to discover the likes of Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan then so be it.

Interestingly, both Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan shared the same producer, Joe Boyd. Although Boyd wasn't involved in producing either of the songs used in the commercials he did produce Drake's first two albums as well as Bunyan's debut album in 1970.

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