'Go, Cubs, Go' a staple in Chicago
Song has been brought back for wins at Wrigley after hiatus
CHICAGO -- The Cubs play their first postseason home game in four years at Wrigley Field on Saturday, and Cubs fans are hoping to hear one thing after the game.
Go, Cubs, Go
Go, Cubs, Go
Hey, Chicago, what do you say
The Cubs are gonna win today.
Those four lines form the core of Chicago native Steve Goodman's "Go, Cubs, Go" anthem, a song first written in 1984 but since revived with the success of the 2007 National League Central champions. The song can be downloaded from iTunes, where it currently is the most popular folk song.
"We don't have a theme song, but I would say that it's the unofficial Cubs victory song," said Jay Blunk, director of marketing and sales for the Cubs. "[Fans] have certainly adopted this song, probably more so than they ever have."
Following each Cubs win at Wrigley this season, of which there were 44, Goodman's song blared throughout the stadium as Cubs players gathered on the field and fans cheered in the stands to celebrate the win. The Cubs enter Saturday down, 2-0, to the Arizona Diamondbacks in their NL Division Series, and if they are to stay alive in the playoffs, the fans will need to be singing "Go, Cubs, Go" after wins on Saturday and Sunday at Wrigley. "It's nothing short of complete euphoria," Blunk said of the postgame scene. "It's the richness of the win, especially when you're in a pennant race."
Goodman wrote the song prior to the Cubs NL East championship season in 1984, but never got the opportunity to see the team he spent his life rooting for reach the postseason. The 36-year-old folk singer, who was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 20, passed away four days before the Cubs clinched the division.
It was also Goodman that, three years earlier, penned "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request." In stark contrast to the optimistic tone of "Go, Cubs, Go," "Last Request" took a more cynical approach to the Cubs and their lackluster performance, referring to the team as the "doormat of the National League," whose home park was an "ivy-covered burial ground."
But there was no question that Goodman was a Cubs fan, and it was his upbeat melody that personified the 1984 team. The song was a hit, and was the predominant track played at Wrigley until 1987, when the team decided to transition from "Go, Cubs, Go," to "Here Come the Cubs," a song recorded by the Beach Boys.
"We tried a couple different things," Blunk said. "We had 'Celebration' by Kool & the Gang at one time. We had 'Get Down Tonight' by KC & the Sunshine Band for a few years. 'Go, Cubs, Go,' we have played off and on over the years as well, but the difference is this year, it seems to have taken on a life of its own.
"The other songs were great that we were playing after the game, but this is actually written by someone that understands what it means to be a Cubs fan. The lyrics make the difference with the song, because if you're a Cubs fan and you listen to the lyrics of that song, you relate to those."
They got the power, they got the speed
To be the best in the National League
Well this is the year and Cubs are real
So come on down to Wrigley Field.
We're singing now ...
Go, Cubs, Go
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Cubs fans approach every season with the attitude that "this is the year," but the team's success in 2007 has made it easier for the song to catch on. The team had eight more wins at home than in 2006, but Blunk also attributed the resurgence to a move made by local television stations broadcasting the game. Rather than providing commentary immediately after the win, the announcers let the stadium's public address feed into the broadcast, so that viewers could hear Goodman's voice as they watched fans at Wrigley singing along.
As the wins continued to pile up for the Cubs, "Go, Cubs, Go" continued to gather momentum as the ode to the team became more prevalent in and around the stadium.
"What I've seen this year is people are waiting until the game is over so they can sing this song, and that's something that's different than in years past," said Blunk, who is in his 21st season in the Cubs marketing department. "Back in the 1980s, early '90s, when the team wasn't performing as well as it should have, there were times where people would wait to watch Harry [Caray] sing the [seventh-inning] stretch, and then there would be a mass exodus. And they were waiting for that song, they were waiting for that moment.
"People are waiting for 'Go, Cubs, Go.'
So stamp your feet and clap your hands
Chicago Cubs got the greatest fans.
You're singing now
Go, Cubs, Go ...
"It's a catchy tune. How can't you love it?" said Zac Smith, 25, who is originally from Rockford but now lives in Wrigleyville. "It's something that you love the first time you hear it, and I think it's a great thing that they've been putting it on after the games. I think they've started to implement it even more because it's caught on with the players, fans, everybody alike."
Cubs fans were singing Goodman's song around Wrigleyville in the days leading up to Game 3 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and are looking to be chanting "Go, Cubs, Go," all the way to the World Series.
"People understand what it means to get close to postseason, get in postseason and play in the tournament of eight teams for a World Series," Blunk said. "It's unique. It would be something that many generations have waited for, and in my opinion, a Cubs World Series championship would be the biggest sporting event of our lifetimes, nationally."
Hey Chicago, what do you say
The Cubs are gonna win today.
Marc Zarefsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.