Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tim Finn’s NZ cricket song Runs in the Family

One cricket song of note that doesn’t appear in A Tingling Catch is Tim Finn and the Record Partnership’s ‘Runs in the Family’.
Cast your minds back to 1995 and the 100th anniversary of the New Zealand Cricket Council. A one-day tournament was played featuring Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa. Given New Zealand’s run of losses at the time, it was termed ‘the birthday bash from hell’. Penned especially for the anniversary and tournament and maybe to give the Black Caps a boost, Tim Finn’s song climbed to No. 9 on the New Zealand single’s chart. Finn appeared on the Holmes show to promote the single’s release, and all looked bright.
Blair Mulholland, however, later included Tim’s song in his “Worst NZ Songs of All Time” on in 2004. Here’s the link: Blair notes that Finn’s ‘appalling NZ Cricket anthem Runs in the Family … can be number six. It sank even lower than the fortunes of the team in 1995, which was no mean feat really.’ On the second page of comments on Blair's post, one comment by SuperElmo defended the track: ‘Runs In The Family is ok. I remember the video for it.’ I can’t remember the video now myself, but if it had some cricket highlights in it, it was probably okay.
After all the dire predictions and Tim’s efforts, how did the New Zealand team fare in the tournament? The Black Caps surprisingly made the final after beating India and South Africa, largely due to the batting of Mark Greatbatch who had recently returned to the squad, skipper Ken Rutherford and a young Stephen Fleming. Martin Crowe played just one game before picking up an injury. Justin Vaughan, the current CEO of NZ Cricket, was also in the squad. Danny Morrison, Chris Cairns, Chris Pringle, Shane Thomson, Gavin Larsen and Vaughan were the bowling attack.
In the final Shane Warne took 2-21 and Tim May, his spin partner, took 3-19 to reduce the Black Caps to 137-9 at Eden Park. Rutherford made 46 and without Vaughan’s 20 not out, the total could’ve been lower. Captain Mark Taylor, Mark Waugh and David Boon knocked off the runs for Australia in the 32nd over.
Back to Tim Finn’s song, which is worth including on the “Tingling Catch” archive. I made a transcript of it. I admit I’m a fan of some of Finn’s music, particulary the Finn Brother’s album, Everyone is Here (2004), and some Split Enz tracks like ‘Dirty Creature’, ‘I See Red’ and ‘Poor Boy’ as well as Tim’s solo songs like ‘Persuasion’ co-written with English musician Richard Thompson. Tim’s songs for the most part are worth commenting on. The opening stanza of ‘Runs in the Family’ for instance features beach cricket, a Kiwi tradition at holiday baches during summer time:

Runs in the Family

I remember long ago playing
cricket by the sea
My father’s love of grace and skill
still runs in the family
Leather ball and willow bat
the scene of generation’s come
Pay your dues and show respect:
runs in the family

I like Tim’s idea here of a generational tradition in New Zealand, passed down through families, and that’s how some of our best cricketers have been taught. In these opening lines Tim acknowledges his father Richard. Around that time, Joseph Romanos wrote a book called Great New Zealand Cricket Families (1992). In the book Joseph discusses among others: the Hadlee family, the Cairns family, the Crowe family and the Bracewell family - to which you could now add the McCullum family.
Tim’s chorus that follows the opening verse is simple enough, a repeated refrain of ‘Runs in the family’, sung about four times. Overall, I guess it has that anthemic quality, and I can see how SuperElmo thought it was okay to some extent. The single’s not bad in places.
The bit that jarred for me was the attempt to mix in some hip-hop and ragamuffin. Here’s that rap lyric part from the guest performer:

100 years run in the family
watch me now, don’t play Mr Hadlee
Rutherford, Greatbatch, Morrison, Crowe
Coney, Wright, Patel and Jones
broad to the bat is the stylee
wickets and cricket and feeling irie
googly, bouncer, yorker and leg-break
from Eden Park to Kingston, Jamaica


What’s odd here is that some of the players named were not in the New Zealand team playing the centenary tournament. Except for ‘Greatbatch, Morrison, Crowe’, the others were no longer in the Black Caps. And the West Indies weren’t at the tournament either, making you wonder why they chose a ragamuffin part for the song. I’m not sure when the song was written in 1994, maybe they thought the Windies were coming and some of these players were still playing, but when it was released, it was those little bits that tended to lessen the impact of the song. Were they using the names of greats like ‘Hadlee’, ‘Coney’ and ‘Wright’ to sell the song? Or were they there to give us a sense of the history of the game. If so, why not Sutcliffe and Reid? The only interesting thing in the rap part was throwing in the word ‘Aotearoa!’ at the end.
I guess that’s why I left it out of A Tingling Catch, though I do like Tim’s opening stanza and the beach cricket idea acknowledging his father very much.

Article © Mark Pirie 2011

Sources: Runs in the Family by Tim Finn and the Record Partnership (cassette single, Epic, 1995); Tim Finn, A Timeline (2009): A Solo, And Sometimes Solitary, Man by Graham Reid, Elsewhere website, 2009; Great New Zealand Cricket Families by Joseph Romanos (Random House, Auckland, 1992); Wikipedia - the free encyclopedia; ESPN Cricinfo Archive; and Worst NZ Songs of All Time by Blair Mulholland,, 2004.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, the music video of "runs in the family" has been uploaded to youtube