Whose song is it anyway? Boston Bruins fans co-opt Steelers song

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Game 7 tonight in Vancouver. The Canucks versus the Boston Bruins. Only one team can claim the Stanley Cup.

If only the same were true of songs.

Fans in Boston, caught up in the thrill of seeing their team skate toward a possible NHL championship, have found a tune to rally 'round -- an anthem if you will -- that has a fairly familiar ring to it.

It's "Black and Yellow," by Allderdice High School graduate Wiz Khalifa, which he penned as an homage to the signature colors of Pittsburgh sports teams. The tune, released in the fall, rose to No. 1 on the charts as the Steelers marched to the Super Bowl.

You couldn't venture into a club or sports bar in Pittsburgh last winter and not hear Steelers fans singing along with it.

"That song got played all the time, every night during the football season," said Mark Gorga, owner of Sloppy Joe's on Mount Washington, which has the tune on the jukebox. "It was like a pep rally. Before the game, during halftime."

It was at about the same time that the song was noticed by Dan Fleming, 24, an aspiring hip-hop and rap artist from Peabody, Mass., just north of Boston. Fleming writes his own songs, mostly remixes, and posts them on YouTube and Facebook.

"I hear a song, and I think, 'I like this; I kind of want to rap on this.' I go to the studio and make my own version of it," he said Tuesday. "When I first heard 'Black and Yellow,' I immediately thought, 'Oh, Bruins!' "

For Steelers fans, the original song was just right. But for Fleming and the Boston audience, the lyrics needed some tweaking. In fact, for his version, he replaced the lyrics with Bruins references -- except for the signature chorus of "black and yellow, black and yellow."

Fleming also made a video of his composition and posted it on Facebook. He had 10,000 views within a week.

Then some of the Boston disc jockeys started playing it in the clubs. At The Greatest Bar -- just down the street from the TD Banknorth Garden, where the Bruins play -- Fleming was invited to perform it live.

"This place is a controlled chaos for Bruins games," said Corey O'Neill, general manager of the sports bar. "It's a mini-heaven. For Game 6, we were filled to capacity [of 450], and it was all black and gold. We had 200 people lined up outside."

Fleming's song is at the top of the bar's playlist.

"I never even heard the original song until after I heard the Bruins remix," O'Neill said. "It's great. I don't think it does the [original] song an injustice. I think it's done well. I hope the guy who did the original doesn't mind. It's all in good fun."

Khalifa could not be reached for comment, but it's unlikely that he would be upset. Sports fans across the country have tapped his tune for homages to their own teams, including tracks for the Packers, the Ravens and the Lakers. Even the Canucks pay tribute to their former colors, "Black Red Yellow."

As the NHL playoffs have progressed, Fleming's "original" Bruins song has caught fire. Bits have been played on the radio, and his video on YouTube has been seen by a half-million viewers. A second version -- capitalizing on the playoff run with lyrics that are a little less racy -- has more than 80,000 hits.

Fleming makes no apologies to Khalifa -- "I figure he's a little busy," he said. Or to the Steelers fans who might be offended.

"They have their version. Boston needed its own version," he said. "We each have our own."

But to sports fans with long memories, talk of sharing sounds a bit strange when spoken with a Boston accent. Pittsburgh fans might recall how the Bruins protested when the Penguins changed their colors from blue and white to black and gold in 1979. (The NHL permitted the change because the first Pittsburgh hockey team -- the Pirates -- wore black and gold in 1925.)

Emily Inscho, a bartender for five years at Buffalo Blues in Shadyside, said that as far as she is concerned, "Black and Yellow" is strictly a Pittsburgh song. She couldn't believe another fan base would dare to adopt it.

"That's a cheap thing to do. Get your own song," she said. "That doesn't seem right at all. ... I mean, it's not like 'Renegade,' which we've adopted but we don't have a claim to. But as far as the Wiz Khalifa song, that's ours."

"I think it's pretty cheesy," Gorga said. "I'm hoping the Bruins lose now, because they're doing that."

Dan Majors: dmajors@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1456.


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