Monday, May 17, 2021

Essential tracks for your post-lockdown pub crawl

Do you remember The Soundtrack of our Lives? Not a great band, but a great band name. Because that’s what music offers us – the chance to augment our every experience with its own melodic memory. 

And if, like me, you’ve soundtracked the past 12 months of your life with Johnny Cash’s legendary prison recordings while staring gloomily out of the bedroom window, you’re probably pretty upbeat about the arrival of May 17th and the possibility of a first post-lockdown pub crawl.  


Kudos to you if you’ve already managed to make it out to multiple boozers in a single night. Personally, I’ve found the combination of inclement weather and table reservations to be an insurmountable barrier.  


The best pub crawls are unpredictable and impulsive; they take surprising twists and turns; they reel you in, and then they keep you out far longer than your sensible, sober self had planned. 


So how should we soundtrack our inaugural post-lockdown pub crawl? Well, here are a few fitting selections… 


George Michael – ‘Freedom! ’90’ 

“I won’t let you down / I will not give you up / Gotta have some faith in the sound.”  


‘Freedom! ’90 didn’t even make the top 20 in the UK charts, despite now being regarded as one of George Michael’s defining works. It’s a song so good even Robbie Williams couldn’t ruin it, and whether you’re planning a polite reunion of friends or an evening of unabashed debauchery, it’s a fitting anthem for the night ahead.  


Sham 69 – ‘Hurry Up Harry’  

Were Sham 69 a good band? Is ‘Hurry Up Harry a good song? Such questions matter not. With its riotous and relentlessly repeated chorus of “We’re going down the pub” I defy anyone to listen to Hurry Up Harry and not feel at least slightly exhilarated about their pending beer-soaked odyssey.  


As one YouTuber recently commented on the track, “Belter! Should be the National Anthem”. Evidently they’re yet to come across the defining version of ‘God Save The Queen 


Lady Gaga – ‘Just Dance’ 

People who dance in beer gardens are suspicious characters who should be avoided at all costs. But the crazy person who dances on their own in front of the pub jukebox? Respect (although you should probably still avoid them at all costs).  


From Lionel Richie to The Nolans, there are a lot of great songs about dancing. It’s hard to look further than Lady Gaga though. Her entire back catalogue is one long dance-fest (well, almost), and ‘Just Dance is up there with the best of them. If in doubt, just dance.  


The Kinks – ‘The Village Green Preservation Society’ 

If you’ve spent lockdown life away from the city at your family home in the country, or if you’ve decided to up sticks and permanently relocate to pastures rural, you may find your pubbing options somewhat limited.  


So as you’re rambling across the village green from the village inn to the other village inn, let The Kinks’ classic, ‘The Village Green Preservation Society, remind you of everything great about traditional British community life – from draught beer and billiards to, err, Fu Manchu. 


Rhianna – ‘Cheers (Drink To That)’ 

May 17th is a Monday, so not a great night for a pub crawl, even if you’re ‘working from home’ the next day. However, as Rhianna reminds us, it won’t be long before we’re at the bar, raising a glass to the freakin’ weekend.  


Not only is ‘Cheers (Drink To That) a perfectly pitched drinking anthem with a delightful video, but it also samples Avril Lavigne, which can only be a good thing. Fun fact: I once went on a particularly over-exuberant pub crawl and awoke to find that I’d purchased two tickets to an Avril Lavigne show the following week. Best drunken purchase I ever made. 


Leonard Cohen – ‘Closing Time’ 

It isn’t the most famous song written about closing time, but Leonard Cohen’s chirpy hoedown offers a more celebratory conclusion to our festivities than Semisonic’s late 90s hit of the same name. Whereas Semisonic are only too keen to get home and go to bed, Leonard offers us drinking, dancing, a band that’s “really happening” and “Johnny Walker wisdom” running high. 


Like most of Leonard Cohen’s songs, you could write an essay about the lyrics to ‘Closing Time’, but for now, maybe it’s better just to dance a merry jig to the fiddle and postpone finishing your drink for just a few moments longer. 


KISS – ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ 

Finally, if you’re really going on for it on your first post-lockdown night out, ‘Crazy Crazy Nights is the song you want playing before they finally throw you out of the bar.  


KISS are ridiculous, this song is ridiculous, but what it delivers is three and a half minutes of all-out euphoria. And isn’t all-out euphoria just what we’re craving right now? As Paul Stanley defiantly bellows, “They say they can break you again and again / If life is a radio, turn up to ten.” Now there’s a mantra for a good pub crawl. 


Tom Kirkham / @finestworktom  

Image: At Folsom Prison: Music 


  1. Why is ‘The club can't handle me by Flo Rida’ on this list? I mean, I like how this list is too millennial. But can we add a few more songs to this list? As I am so done with this lockdown that I am so ready to have fun! I will honestly get Thesis Editing And Proofreading Service just to party with my friends for one last time. I wish I could play these songs on speaker very soon! x

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