Saturday, March 22, 2014

Play Ball - Baseball Rock Songs


With Spring comes hope.  It is a new baseball season.  No matter what team you root for,  an official game that counts is yet to be played.  If your team didn't win it all last year, that's okay.  Right now, so far this year, they are tied for first place.
Baseball is a microcosm of life and death in North America. It encompasses hope, anticipation, expectation, surprise, luck, success, failure, adulation, despair, team work, individual achievement, management, strategy, wealth, human frailty, stealing, injury, loss, renewal, resurrection, patience, inspiration and perspiration.  It requires mental and physical effort and you are great if you can safely hit a third of the time.
Baseball also has a soundtrack.   Every Major League Baseball game starts with "The Star Spangled Banner" or "The Canadian National Anthem", announces every home team batter with a dedicated snippet of a popular song, and hosts a community choir experience with either (or both) "God Bless America" or "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" during the Seventh Inning Stretch.  As the game ends, depending on the outcome and the city, you might hear Queen's "We Are The Champions", Tony Bennett singing "I Left My Heart In San Francisco",  Frank Sinatra's version of "New York, New York", or any other adopted song that signals and celebrates that the home team has prevailed.
It is not just the game that hosts music.  Baseball is as American as rock 'n roll and there are a plethora of songs that venerate baseball. From John Fogerty's "Centerfield" to Terry Cashman's "Talking Baseball" there has been no shortage of modern musical explications on the American sport.  To get you ready for Opening Day here are five songs that you may not have known actually involve America's Pastime.
1. Bruce Springsteen - "Glory Days"

Springsteen starts his song of youthful yearning with these lyrics:

I had a friend was a big baseball player back in high school
He could throw that speedball by you
Make you look like a fool boy
Saw him the other night at this roadside bar
I was walking in, he was walking out
We went back inside sat down had a few drinks
But all he kept talking about was

Glory days
well they'll pass you by
Glory days
in the wink of a young girl's eye
Glory days, glory days

2.  Eddie Vedder - "All The Way"

Eddie bemoans the perennial runner up Chicago Cubs:

Don’t let anyone say that it’s just a game.
For I’ve seen other teams and it’s never the same
When you’re born in Chicago, you’re blessed and you’re healed
First time you walk into Wrigley Field

Our heroes wear pinstripes; heroes in blue
They give us the chance to feel like heroes too
Whether we’ll win, and if we should lose
We know someday we’ll go all the way
Yeah! Someday we’ll go all the way

3. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - "My, Oh My"

Macklemore, the rapper/hip hop artist known for "Ceiling Can't Hold Us", wears his Seattle Mariners devotion on his sleeve and recorded:

I used to sit with my dad in the garage
That sawdust, that Pinesol, and the moss
Around every spring, when the winter thawed
We’d huddle around the radio, twist the broken knob
710 AM, no KJR. Dave Niehaus' voice would echo throughout the yard
Couldn’t have been older than 10
But to me and my friends
The voice on the other end might as well have been God’s
1995, the Division Series
Edgar's up to bat
Bottom of the 11th inning
Got the whole town listening
"Swung on and belted," the words distorted. "Joey Cora rounds third!
Here comes Griffey! The throw to the plate’s not in time!
My, oh my, the Mariners win it!"
Yes. Fireworks, they lit up that ceiling in the Kingdome
We had just made history

4. Peter, Paul and Mary - "Right Field"

Okay, it may be folk and not rock, but, how can you not understand the conundrum of a right fielder:

Playing right field, it's easy you know.
You can be awkward. You can be slow.
That's why I'm here in right field just watchin' the dandelions grow.

5.  Bob Dylan - "Catfish"

Listen to this tune by Dylan, performed by Joe Cocker, and you have got to believe his muse is the Oakland A's:

Lazy stadium night
Catfish on the mound.
"Strike three," the umpire said,
Batter have to go back and sit down.

Catfish, million-dollar-man,
Nobody can throw the ball like Catfish can.

See you in the World Series!  Go Giants!

- Old School

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