Let’s go to the tape

For a couple of years now, regardless of sport, Daughter and I have played Ed Sheeran’s “Divide” album in the car on our way to one of her games. When we play it during the trip isn’t set in stone, but we do always play it, and we do always play it from the top, starting with “Eraser”. 

And we talk about this and that, but most often we simply sing along all the way to the arena, and get our minds in the right frame of mind. Hers into playing her best game, and mine, getting ready to show those hotdogs who’s boss. 

Does it work?

Of course it does. Those hotdogs don’t stand a chance.

As for Daughter, it’s a nice little routine that makes her feel like a player, and gets her in a game frame of mind. 

Also, it’s nice. 


When I was her age, I used to take over the car stereo as well, but I never had one specific tape that I wanted to listen to. I made my first pregame tape in high school, and it had some surprising choices even though it took me thirty years and Wife’s comments to realize it. 

I don’t remember all the songs on it, of course, but I do remember that two that I really liked were Mike Oldfield’s “Moonlight Shadow” and Sheena Easton’s “For Your Eyes Only.”

I know that while I liked Moonlight Shadow, it was the fact that my childhood idol told me he liked it, too, that kept it on that tape, and on rotation, but it was the slowish Bond tune that baffled Wife. 

“Was that really a song that got you up for a hockey game,” she said, while pumping her fist with an overbite. 

“Like that?” she added. 

What can I say? Maybe it was an unorthodox choice but I still think Sheena Easton packs a lot of heart into the song. 

Now, having grown up inside hockey dressing rooms, I naturally also knew my AC/DC, Whitesnake, Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi and Van Halen as well as my Survivor, Springsteen and Queen, the more traditional arena music that was mostly played inside the room. 

Except one year, when we got a new equipment manager who was just a few years older than us, the players, but to a 16-year-old and 20-year-old was a grownup with a twist. He was a cool grownup. 

One day, that cool grownup / equipment manager came to practice with a new tape in his hand. Before he put it in the boombox, he held a short speech on what we were about to experience. 

“This will blow your mind. It’s so F&&%% in-your-face,” he said, and he did drop the F-bomb, too, which was probably why we thought he was way cool … as we said back then. 

It was Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Welcome to the Pleasuredome.”  

“The world is your oyster, boys,” he said, and stared dreamily at the back of the room. 

Granted, it is a high-power tune, but it wasn’t exactly big hair arena music, either. 

But I liked it. 

Another decade later, playing in a Division III team in Finland, I finally got my chance to be in charge of the dressing room music, and I loved it. I mixed the classic 80s tunes – The Eye of the Tiger – with some unexpected ones, spending days and weekends putting together the perfect mix. 

Some of the choices were appreciated, others ignored, and one simply shouted down. That’s when I introduced Attack’s “Ooa hela natten”, a Swedish semi-hit, as our goal song. 

That only lasted half a game. 

For years now, I’ve been wondering when the 80s tunes will fade away and give room to newer hits. All arenas around the world still echo with the sounds of Queen, and Whitesnake and Queen and Survivor. All great tunes, yes, but surely there must come a time when more recent music is played both in arenas and dressing rooms around the hockey world. 

Last weekend, Daughter had another tournament, and the Dad who was put in charge of the music was clearly a 90s kid because he played Nirvana, Offspring, Cranberries, Manic Street Preachers, and The Cure, and while it felt weird, it was also nice.


Daughter and I drove back to her last game, playing Ed Sheeran in the car stereo, singing along, getting ready for the game. I dropped her off and parked the car, and as I walked back and got my hotdog, the other team’s players were walking from their dressing room in a little hut outside to the actual rink. 

Just as I walked by them, I heard the first player on the line burst into a song. 

“Take oooon meee,” he sang in a high boy’s voice. 

“Take me ooooon,” continued another player. 

“I’ll be gooooone,” sang yet another one. 

“… In a day or twooooo,” sang someone at the back of the line. 

It was a-ha’s “Take on me”, one of the quintessential 80s songs. And while it’s not a big-hair song or hard rock, it is a great tune to get your feet going and it worked for them. They won the game. 

But my hotdog was delicious. 

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