Total Football

Album: Wide Awake! (2018)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Parquet Courts lead singer Andrew Savage explained the song's meaning to Billboard:

    "'Total Football' is a Dutch theory for association football. The idea is that all players on the field can assume different roles at a moment's notice and switch roles. Any player can play any position. I guess I'm making a statement about collectivity and autonomy. It's kind of railing against this idea of clichéd, American masculine hyper-individuality."
  • Savage recalled the story of the song to WESA:

    "The first element of 'Total Football' to come to me was the intro and outro sections. In fact, it was probably the first new thing I had written for Parquet Courts since Human Performance. I remember coming up with it and playing it over and over again on guitar.

    I like songs like Poison Idea's 'Made to Be Broken,' which have these catchy, mid-tempo intro and outro parts and a faster, hardcore song sandwiched between. 'Total Football' isn't exactly a hardcore song, but that's the imagery I see when I hear it. Kids stage-diving and creepy crawling. Definitely a lot of [hardcore punk] youth crew influence toward the end, with the gang vocals, and the vocals on the outro.

    The bass line of the song was inspired by Devo. I had these parts written for the longest time before [adding] the pre-chorus and chorus bits. The lyrics take the form of a manifesto, which is fitting for the first song on this album I think. Bold and declarative."
  • Andrew Savage explained the track's meaning to Q magazine: "It's certainly not just a song about sports. It's basically applying their concept to the USA today, where many, including a lot of younger people, are craving a cultural model that's against the American individualism that's been so emphasized for generations here.

    You look at the wave of demonstrations that are going on in the US right now he continued, and it's obvious that people are seeking a more collective ideology, but because we are Americans, I guess there will always be this craving for individuality and autonomy, so the song's about finding a more nuanced version of collectivism that also allows an opportunity for strong personal expression."

Comments: 2

  • Chris from TucsonIt’s pretty explicitly stated in the song that individuality and collectivism both have merit, hence the line, “collectivism and autonomy are not mutually exclusive”
  • SteveHard to get behind this, as I'm for individuality, not groupthink collectivism as displayed so much by far left protestors.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jimmy Webb

Jimmy WebbSongwriter Interviews

Webb talks about his classic songs "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman" and "MacArthur Park."

Jesus In Pop Hits: The Gospel Songs That Went Mainstream

Jesus In Pop Hits: The Gospel Songs That Went MainstreamSong Writing

These overtly religious songs crossed over to the pop charts, despite resistance from fans, and in many cases, churches.

Wedding Bell Blues

Wedding Bell BluesSong Writing

When a song describes a wedding, it's rarely something to celebrate - with one big exception.

Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust

Lajon Witherspoon of SevendustSongwriter Interviews

The Sevendust frontman talks about the group's songwriting process, and how trips to the Murder Bar helped forge their latest album.

Mike Scott of The Waterboys

Mike Scott of The WaterboysSongwriter Interviews

The stories behind "Whole Of The Moon" and "Red Army Blues," and why rock music has "outlived its era of innovation."

Martyn Ware of Heaven 17

Martyn Ware of Heaven 17Songwriter Interviews

Martyn talks about producing Tina Turner, some Heaven 17 hits, and his work with the British Electric Foundation.