The first time I heard this song was when it was used during the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics, as the soundtrack to the segment about the Olympic Torch’s journey through the country prior to the flame being lit.
I went to see the torch when it passed through Garstang, where I was working. At the time, it was a miserable experience – the day was cold and it was pouring with rain, howling with wind, rather fitting for a British summer event! But it didn’t matter. In retrospect it’s one of the brighter memories of that year, as are the Olympics in general. Albeit given the shine of television editing, with a glorious soundtrack: I Hear Wonders by David Holmes.
I was in London for the opening night, ensconced in an Enfield living room with two of my dearest and oldest friends, looking forward to going to some of the events the following day with one of them. The Olympics are important to me. Not all sport, and certainly not even most athletics or competition sport, but the Olympics in particular hold a very special place in my heart. I remember watching Linford Christie and Sally Gunnell bring home the golds in Barcelona in 1992 and wishing that Freddie Mercury could have performed at the opening ceremony. I cried when Mohammed Ali lit the flame in Atlanta in 1996, and again a few days later after the bombing. That was the year I found out about the symbolism of the Olympic flame, about the sacred nature of Olympic time and the agreement that wars and grudges should be put aside for the duration of the flame. I was 14 years old, susceptible to such things, and it was a cruel irony that those Olympics should be attacked just after that realisation. It felt like nothing in the world could be trusted. No betrayal ever hurts so much as the ones you endure when you are 14.
I missed most of the 2000 Sydney games due to work, and the same with the 2004 ones in Athens. Something I bitterly regretted at the time. I wanted to believe in the 2008 games especially – I wanted the games to bring light into China. Again, I was devastated when the torch was extinguished on its route due to protests. It felt almost as poignant and symbolic as the Altlanta attacks. After that, a lot of my enthusiasm died out.
But 2012 was going to be different. It was going to be here, and I was going to be there, even if I just took the train to London and wandered around soaking up the atmosphere. But it was better than that. My beautiful friend had offered me tickets to two different events and my excitement was just as high as it had been twenty years ago, watching my first games. This time I would be making memories about being there, being part of the Olympic experience. Not just watching it on the television.
When I hear this song now, I remember that almost sugar-rush of happiness, sitting watching the opening ceremony, feeling like something wonderful was unfolding. Like I was walking in a dream. I felt the same the first time I went to Old Trafford – here I was in the place where dreams were made, battles were won and champions became Gods. Seeing the joy in people’s faces as the torch went from place to place was lovely – I didn’t care that it was edited to appear more positive than I had experienced it as being. I wanted the happy memory and here it was via the blessing of television.
This song isn’t my usual type of thing. I like soaring vocals, melodies, harmonies. I like vocals with gut punch and power to them, whatever the genre. These whispering male vocals aren’t my usual thing at all. But something in the backing track really brings out the tingles in my blood and it has become one of my go-to happy songs.
And so, it deserves a slot on Song Of The Week. Enjoy! Here’s the track in its fullness, in addition to the earlier montage where I first met it.
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