World Cup Rant, Part 2: The Hair of God, the Head of an Octopus

When long-suffering Spain defeated Germany yesterday to qualify for its first-ever World Cup final, you could point to the usual sports pundit’s list of factors to explain the 2008 European Cup champion’s victory, from Spain’s superbly choreographed short-passing game to the offensive wizardry of the brilliant midfielder Xavi. But since none of these reasons would allow me to go off on a musical tangent, I’ll focus instead on two acts of divine intervention.

First, let’s talk hair. Xavi’s Barça teammate Carles Puyol scored the winning goal, and as the late Warren Zevon might have noted, his hair was perfect. Puyol has a huge head of rock star hair that could have seen him waking up with Peter Frampton’s wine glass in his hand in 1976, sparking the dubious hair-metal craze in 1986, skateboarding with Pearl Jam in 1996, or opening for My Morning Jacket in 2006. More locally, Puyol’s hair would have easily qualified him to substitute for the lead singer in Barcelona band Sopa de Cabra (see the video below). To be sure, Puyol can’t match the legendary locks of Colombian soccer star Carlos Valderrama. But at the decisive moment in yesterday’s match, Puyol’s flowing tresses gave him an unusually wide target to receive the ball on Xavi’s corner kick and connect for the winning header. By contrast, close-cropped German striker Miroslav Klose, who might as well have been a member of Kraftwerk, stood nearby in disbelief.

In contrast to Argentina’s celebrated Hand of God goal 24 years ago, this one was perfectly legal. Still, it’s clear that Spain won by the hair of God, which can’t bode well for the follicly challenged Netherlands team that will face Spain in the final. In Spain’s honor, here’s an impromptu list of songs about hair:

Ben Vaughn Combo, “Wrong Haircut”
Nina Simone, “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair”
Mongo Santamaria, “Afro Blue”
Calexico, “Hair Like Spanish Moss”
Danney Ball, “Let’s Give the Devil a Bad Hair Day”
Cowsills, “Hair”
Morrissey, “Hairdresser on Fire”
Pavement, “Cut Your Hair”
Beck, “Devil’s Haircut”
Blake Miller, “Long Hair”
Captain Beefheart, “Hair Pie, Bake 1 and 2”
Rogers and Hammerstein, “I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right Outta My Hair”

But wait, there’s more. Spain’s victory over Germany was also preordained by a precocious cephalopod. British-born Paul, who lives at an aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany, is the world’s most famous psychic Octopus. He has stunned the world soccer community by successfully predicting the outcome of 10 of 12 matches in which Germany has been involved dating back to 2008, including all six of its World Cup matches this year. Not everyone has appreciated the brilliance of the Oracle of Oberhausen. The Argentine newspaper El Dia unwisely suggested that he become the star of a paella recipe, and outraged German chefs have now followed suit. By contrast, Spanish chef José Andrés has removed octopus from the menu at all his restaurants. Paul has yet to weigh in on the outcome of the final match. Until then, the only thing I’m sure of is that neither side will be eating calamari or listening to the songs of bald musicians.

Sopa de Cabra, “Sents”

Mongo Santamaria, “Afro Blue”

Beck, “Devil’s Haircut”

Beatles, “Octopus’s Garden”

About Roger Moore

rocklobster3.JPGRoger Moore is a writer and musical obsessive who plays percussion instruments from around the world with an equal lack of dexterity. An environmental lawyer in his unplugged moments, he has written on subjects ranging from sustainable development practices to human rights and voting rights, as well as many music reviews. A native Chicagoan, Roger lives in Oakland, California with his wife Paula, who shares his Paul Weller fixation, and two young children, Amelia and Matthew, who enjoy dancing in circles to his Serge Gainsbourg records and falling asleep to his John Coltrane records.

Roger Moore’s Musical Timeline

1966. Dropped upside down on patio after oldest sister listened to “She Loves You” on the Beatles’ Saturday cartoon show. Ears have rung with the words “yeah, yeah, yeah” ever since.

1973. Memorized all 932 verses to Don McLean’s “American Pie.”

1975. Unsuccessfully lobbied to have “Louie Louie” named the official song of his grade school class. The teacher altered the lyrics of the winner, the Carpenters’ “I Won’t Last a Day Without You,” so that they referred to Jesus.

1977. After a trip to New Orleans, frequently broke drumheads attempting to mimic the style of the Meters’ Zigaboo Modeliste.

1979. In order to see Muddy Waters perform in Chicago, borrowed the birth certificate of a 27 year-old truck driver named Rocco.

1982. Published first music review, a glowing account of the Jam’s three-encore performance for the Chicago Reader. Reading the original, unedited piece would have taken longer than the concert itself.

1982. Spat on just before seeing the Who on the first of their 23 farewell tours, after giving applause to the previous band, the Clash.

1984. Mom: “This sounds perky. What’s it called?” Roger: “ It’s ‘That’s When I Reach for My Revolver’ by Mission of Burma.”

1985. Wrote first review of an African recording, King Sunny Ade’s Synchro System. A reader induced to buy the album by this review wrote a letter to the editor, noting that “anyone wishing a copy of this record, played only once” should contact him.

1985. At a Replacements show in Boston, helped redirect a bewildered Bob Stinson to the stage, which Bob had temporarily confused with the ladies’ bathroom.

1986. Walked forty blocks through a near-hurricane wearing a garbage bag because the Feelies were playing a show at Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club.

1987. Foolishly asked Alex Chilton why he had just performed “Volare.” Answer: “Because I can.”

1988. Moved to Northern California and, at a large outdoor reggae festival, discovered what Bob Marley songs sound like when sung by naked hippies.

1991. Attempted to explain to Flavor-Flav of Public Enemy that the clock hanging from his neck was at least two hours fast.

1992. Under the pseudonym Dr. Smudge, produced and performed for the Underwear of the Gods anthology, recorded live at the North Oakland Rest Home for the Bewildered. Local earplug sales skyrocketed.

1993. Attended first-ever fashion show in Chicago because Liz Phair was the opening act. Declined the complimentary bottles of cologne and moisturizer.

1997. Almost missed appointment with eventual wedding band because Sleater-Kinney performed earlier at Berkeley’s 924 Gilman Street. Recovered hearing days later.

1997. After sharing a romantic evening with Paula listening to Caetano Veloso at San Francisco’s Masonic Auditorium, purchased a Portuguese phrasebook that remains unread.

1998. Learned why you do not yell “Free Bird” at Whiskeytown's Ryan Adams in a crowded theater.

1999. During an intense bout of flu, made guttural noises bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Throat Singers of Tuva.

2000. Compiled a retrospective of music in the nineties as a fellow at the Coolwater Center for Strategic Studies and Barbecue Hut.

2001. Listened as Kahil El’Zabar, in the middle of a harrowing and funny duet show with Billy Bang, lowered his voice and spoke of the need to think of the children, whom he was concerned might grow up “unhip.”

2002. During a performance of Wilco’s “Ashes of American Flags,” barely dodged ashes of Jeff Tweedy’s cigarette.

2002. Arrived at the Alta Bates maternity ward in Berkeley with a world trance anthology specially designed to soothe Paula during Amelia’s birth, filled with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, and assorted other Khans. The project proved to be irrelevant to the actual process of labor.

2003. Emceed a memorable memorial concert for our friend Matthew Sperry at San Francisco’s Victoria Theater featuring a lineup of his former collaborators, including improvised music all-stars Orchesperry, Pauline Oliveros, Red Hot Tchotchkes, the cast of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Tom Waits.

2003. Failed to persuade Ted Leo to seek the Democratic nomination for President.

2005. Prevented two-year old daughter Amelia from diving off the balcony during a performance of Pierre Dorge’s New Jungle Orchestra at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival.

2006. On a family camping trip in the Sierra Nevadas, experienced the advanced stage of psychosis that comes from listening to the thirtieth rendition of Raffi’s “Bananaphone” on the same road trip.

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