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The Man Who Did Walk Alone 2/18/20

As I mentioned in my last story, there are links to things in this world that are sometimes unexpected. Sometimes it’s just plain strange the way people and events are connected to each other. I wasn’t planning on ever mentioning the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” again in my entire life. But here I am bringing it up yet again and drawing more attention to it than it ever deserved. If you hate that damn song as much as I do, I apologize. If I could write this without mentioning it, I would. But, once again, that hideous thing has reared its ugly head and must be dealt with. But there’s much more to this story than just that song, so I hope you don’t let that discourage you from getting through it.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Charles Dickens wrote that opening line in 1859 in reference to the late 1700s, but it’s hard to believe it could apply more aptly to any period of time than the present. Maybe that’s always been so. Maybe it’s been true of every era. I don’t know, but I do know that recently there’ve been really good things, and really awful things. There has probably never been more wisdom in the world than there is today, but I also challenge you to name an epoch in human history that could outdo ours for straight-up foolishness.

Before this story is over you’ll hear more about some of the worst of times and some serious foolishness, but it’s mostly about the best, and the wisdom, so that’s where I’ll start.

If you’ve paid attention to the news over the past year, you’ve probably already heard the name Tom Moore, or Captain Tom, as he’s generally been referred to. For those of you who aren’t already familiar with Captain Tom, I’ll give you a short run-down. Moore served as an officer in the British Army during World War II and later spent several decades as a successful businessman. But it was only over this past year that he really made a name for himself. As his April 30th birthday approached last spring, his 100th birthday, he decided he wanted to raise money for employees of the British National Health Service (NHS) who were on the front lines in the effort to control the virus that was spreading throughout the kingdom. He proved to be a very successful fundraiser, to say the least.

Captain Tom

As an almost-100 year old, Tom had had some health issues over the years and had been impressed by the dedication and competence of the NHS workers he’d come in contact with. So, when the former Army officer saw that those workers were in a war of their own against a determined and stubborn foe, he hatched a plan to raise £1,000 to help support them. With the aid of a walker, he would walk 100 laps around his patio and solicit donations for completing this feat.

Beginning on April 6 of last year, he hoped to complete the 100 laps by his birthday at the end of the month. He actually met his £1000 goal after only five days, when he was only halfway through his 100 laps. So he upped his goal to £5000. Two days later he had met that goal and increased it again to £500,000! After completing his 100 laps on April 16, he just kept on walking and by his birthday on the 30th had raised an astounding £30,000,000 for the support of NHS workers. Let me say that again: He had planned to raise £1000 and ended up raising over £30,000,000. He had surpassed his goal by 30,000%. Talk about an overachiever.

The queen poking Tom in the head

By the end of his walk Captain Tom had become the darling of the media and had received all kinds of commendations from everyone from the prime minister to the army, who awarded him a Regiment Medal. But the highlight was being knighted by the queen herself at Windsor Castle on July 17th. Call me cynical, but I think maybe part of the reason she did it was just to have the chance to meet someone even older than she.

But maybe that wasn’t the highlight for Captain Tom. Apart from the fear he must have felt having a 94 year old lady trying to tap him on the shoulders with a sword without leaving any lasting damage, something else happened before the walking was even complete that may have topped that whole ceremony.

You see, during that fateful month of April Captain Tom caught the attention of people all over the country. He appeared frequently on radio and television to make his requests for donations to his cause. One of those guys who had a radio show was the singer Michael Ball. Ball thought it would be a splendid idea to record a song featuring some spoken words by Tom that they could sell to help raise money. And guess what frickin’ song Michael Ball chose to record? That’s right! Was this a wonderful opportunity for an old man, or a blatant case of elder abuse? When you're done listening to me you'll have to listen to the song and decide for yourselves. Whatever the case, Michael Ball recorded that musical abomination, dubbed some of Captain Tom’s words on it, and within a day they had themselves a record that spent Tom’s 100th birthday at #1. That’s right. 57 years after Gerry and The Pacemakers hit #1 with that terrible tune, it was back on top again. For every star in the sky I could name a more deserving song that never reached the top of the chart once. And that steaming pile of musical poo did it twice. No wonder those people don’t rule the world anymore.

Don’t get me wrong. If it helped raise millions of pounds for a worthy cause and, coincidentally made Captain Tom the oldest one-hit-wonder in history, I’m glad there are so many people with appallingly bad taste in music. That’s great. But, did it have to be that song? Did nobody get the irony? The song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was done by the guy who had literally walked alone! He proved that even a 100 year old man could walk alone and then they made him record part of a song saying he never would. What the... ? I started this story by mentioning the unparalleled foolishness that abounds in the world today. I hereby submit this as exhibit #1 in that argument.

And if that doesn’t convince you, wait, there’s more! One reason the song went to #1 was that the guy (I guess it’s a guy, I don’t really know. It could be a group or some other type of thing) who released a competing song told his (her? their? its?) fans to stop buying his (???) song so that Tom could be #1 for his birthday. It was an exceptionally nice gesture. The best of times, right? Woohoo! Wisdom prevails! Except it was made by a guy (???) named The Weeknd. And I thought The Pacemakers was a silly name. The Weeknd? Did they run out of E’s? Or maybe it was supposed to be The Weakened, as in “I can’t spell because my brain has been weakened”. Very nice of you, whoever or whatever you are. Well done, but do you really want the entire world to assume you’re retarded? That, by the way was exhibit #2. I rest my case.

Unfortunately, the reason for having to bring all of this up now is that Captain Tom Moore is no longer with us. Strangely, the two men who scored #1’s with that song have both died this year within a month of each other. I don’t know what that means, but weird, right? That song is cursed, I'm telling you. Everyone who records it eventually ends up dead, and I hope this serves as a cautionary tale for anyone else out there even thinking of recording it. Ironically, Tom died of Covid on February 2. It’s a bit of a sad story but also a triumphant one. Of his 100 years of life on this planet, Tom saved the best for the very last one. A centenarian with the #1 song in the country? Are you kidding me? That had to feel good. And being knighted? Could he ever have envisioned any of that when he started walking? I guess General MacArthur never met Tom Moore. If he had he would have known that not all old soldiers just fade away. Some go out with a bang. RIP Captain Tom.

And with that, I promise to never again mention that song in this blog or podcast. I am done with it. But if any of you just can’t get enough, or would just like to hear Captain Tom’s hit song, you’re welcome to check out the youtube video.

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Feb 19, 2021


I had heard of Captain Tom, about him raising money and about his knighthood, but I had not heard about his #1 hit. Wow, maybe there is hope for me if I live long enough!

You are amazing!

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