You could be forgiven if you assumed it was all over for Essendon.
There seems to be a bit of an ongoing dispute within the larger Essendon camp over who should get credits for writing this one.
There was an attempt to put that dispute to rest when Mike Brady approached the club in 1999 with an updated version of the lyrics.
Sadly for Brady, for every ‘Up there Cazaly’ and ‘One Day in September’, there’s a ‘Lucky You’re With AAMI’ and a ‘Dodo, Dodo, Internet that Flies’ and the revised Essendon lyrics didn’t stick.
It’s based on the 1929 tune, (Keep Your) Sunny Side Up with music by Ray Henderson and lyrics by Lew Brown and Buddy DeSylva.
It was made popular on the dance floors and turntables of pre-Depression USA by Johnny Hamp’s Kentucky Serenaders.
It’s all about keeping a smile in the face of adversity, looking at clouds only for their silver lining etc, and to me that seems like an interesting choice.
Often the tunes about keeping your chin up despite how badly things can go wrong are reflections on how well a club was performing at the time, yet the Bombers were doing well during the 1960s when it was first used as a club song – they made the finals six times and the grand final three times for two flags.
But whatever the reason, it’s a catchy little number, made even more upbeat by bumping up the tempo by about 25BPM.
The success of the era, not to mention the ten flags they’d won pre-1960, accounts for the confidence of the lyrics.
They’re alerting bystanders to witness Essendon on their perpetual ascent for grand final glory (or Preeemiership, as they put it).
To me, ‘See the Bombers Fly Up’ is the archetypal VFL club song. It’s formula, established 60 years earlier by Collingwood, had been entrenched and perfected by the time this song came around.
The lyrics are assured, but not overly boastful.
While there are tunes that I believe are easily better, this might be the song you’d play to someone to explain the whole club song concept, and how much of an important part it plays in AFL.