Last week our home town football club AA Gent crashed out of the quarter-finals of the EUFA Europa Conference League at the hands of West Ham United. The anthem of this London-based Premier League club is the American song Blowing Bubbles, originally written in 1918.
The music was co-authored by John Kellette and Jaan Kenbrovin, a collective pseudonym for James Kendis, James Brockman and Nat Vincent.
The song became a big hit in America and in the early 1920s made its way into European music halls where it was performed by major singers and bands.
If one would argue that graphical quality —or illustrative DNA— is very different for each country (or more simply said, that each region in the world has its own more or less unique illustration style) then the various covers shown here for the same song around the same period perfectly illustrate this point.
The official version of how West Ham fans came to adopt this song revolves around a schoolboy and a soap ad for Pears in the early 1920s. But this dubious claim cannot be proven as the first recording of West Ham fans singing Blowing Bubbles was not before 1940, when West Ham won the Football League War Cup Final.
In 1980 the English punk rock band Cockney Rejects reimagined the romantic Boston Waltz into a thuggish raw Oi!-version to celebrate their beloved club winning the FA Cup Final.
Their mimed performance for Top of the Pops with the lead singer clad in the West-Ham colours (claret and sky blue) ended with the teenagers running around the BBC building and causing mischief. Following this incident the BBC banned the group from performing, some calling it an unfair punishment.
The group was closely affiliated with the team’s notorious hooligan firm and they provoked violence wherever they performed. According to the Guardian a Cockney Rejects’ 1980 performance in Birmingham was “the most violent gig in British history“, which also meant the end of their career as a live band.
Anyway, I’m sure our Gent players, aka the Buffalos, were not happy to hear this song in the stadium… Oi, sorry mates!
I’m forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air,
They fly so high,
They reach the sky,
And like my dreams they fade and die!