Ten tribute songs to athletes for fans of every sport

Sometimes music and sports can work well and when it does it is pure magic.
Venus Williams at Wimbledon 2008
Venus Williams at Wimbledon 2008 / Simon M Bruty/GettyImages
5 of 6


“BELFAST BOY” by Don Fardon (1970)

Long before the aforementioned David Beckham thrilled Man U crowds, the was George Best. Those who remember him will swear he was the greatest player that ever graced the pitch. Fardon begins his tribute “’Cause you move like a downtown dancer – With your hair hung down like a mane – And your feet play tricks like a juggler – As you weave to the sound of your name.”

The hair, the skill, the lifestyle – it all turned Georgie Best into a celebrity on par with rock stars and movie idols in the swingin' '60s. Whether he was drunk or not when he played is open to debate. Well, not really. It might be more a question of just how drunk he was at times. But for a while, it didn’t seem to matter. Best’s runs through defenders were pure magic.

Fardon had scored something of a surprise hit with his cover of an obscure song called “Indian Reservation” in 1968. “Belfast Boy” hit much closer to home. It’s standard rock and roll, with some funky piano fills, a whining harmonica, a few horn blasts, and plenty of guitar. Best’s lifetime of alcohol abuse caught up with him in 2005. He passed away at 59. Fardon re-released his song a year later and it was once again a hit, as people remembered the Belfast Boy in his glorious youth.


“I’M READY” by Wyclef Jean (2008)

Wyclef’s Jean’s fan letter to Venus Williams came out as the seesaw was beginning to permanently tip toward her sister Serena.  He begins “Her name is Venus – Ruler of the universe – Master of all turfs – As it is written, so shall it be done.”  But by this point, it was Serena who had claimed a career grand slam – the true sign of all-court mastery.

Jean met Venus when they were brought together for the TV show Iconoclasts. The show took two acclaimed personalities from different fields and had them compare notes. Williams was one of just a few athletes to ever appear. (I believe she was the second one after Tony Hawk). Wyclef was instantly smitten – not simply by her prowess on the court, but by the warmth and genuineness of her personality.

His admiration comes through in the music. There is a regal quality to the production, the kind of song that could be played at the coronation. There is something very sweet in the way he ends his first verse with “I’m just a fan – I hope you read my letter – Sincerely yours, Wycleff.”

Venus did read it and loved it. What’s more, Serena read it too and Jean says the next he saw her, she asked “Where’s my song?” So he wrote “Heart of a Warrior” for the documentary Venus and Serena a few years later. But "I'm Ready" serves a more valuable purpose. It reminds tennis fans that though she was overshadowed by her sister -- the greatest player of all time -- Venus Williams still ranks very high on that all-time list.