Friday, October 15, 2010
The Greatest Baseball Song Ever Written
The title sells the content, doesn't it?
And it could go on forever.
I'm not a big fan of "...the best of anything" because "best" is purely subjective, and with the estimated population of our planet nearing seven billion (at this hour), the "best" could get a bit crowded.
Plus, it is necessary to actually think; something that does not always fit my busy schedule.
However since this is the season of ground balls between the legs, bloody socks, grit and grand-stand heroics against all odd, and because so many songs have been written on the subject, I think a musical smack-down is in order.
To go on-line and Google would be cheating somewhat, so I dug around amidst the synapses and flotsam of my well worn brain and pried forth a few.
It sort of helps that I, along with a lot of other good people were in a show written and produced and directed (the New England answer to Orson Wells) by my brother Gary Locke and "The Players Ring" about a year and a half ago called, "Play Ball".
"Take Me Out To The Ballgame" of course jumps right out. This aging paean to the grand-old game brims with memories of Ernie Harwell directing the crowd to sing along or Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra in the 1940's movie of the same name. It can be instantly recognizable to anyone, including those who could not care a fig about the game.
"Glory Days" by The Boss still rocks and rolls over that guy who relives a past that he never caught up with.
The Chairman of the Board, the aforementioned Sinatra, sang a haunting song so wonderfully interpreted by Paul Lusier in the show, "Play Ball". "There Used to Be a Ballpark". He gave me shivers every night.
The little known, but perfect story of "Catfish", written in part by Bob Dylan is baseball from a slide guitar and an open bottle of booze.
From Broadway we get "You Gotta Have Heart" an aging managers exhortation to a team that has to face those "Damn Yankees". Yes. I said it. DAMN YANKEES!
So many songs. So little time.
The cool as an ice-cube Dave Frishberg has written several songs to his favorite sport. Among them is the immortal "Van Lingo Mungo" and a misty eyed look at "Dodger Blue".
Noel Paul Stokey gave us a piece of our lives with his recording of "Right Field"; a song which sadly (and comically) declares where many boys (and girls) found themselves.
In keeping with the theme, "Centerfield"; a chart topper gift from John Fogerty proclaims the promise that each spring sprouts a-new.
Although technically not a song, a car radio hissing and crackling and Phil Rizutto providing the play-by-play background in "Meatloafs'" "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" should be included in what would become the steamy anthemn for many front-seat lovers in days of yor. It was so succesful, that Epic records released a version for those of us in New England who cling to grand hopes and awake to smashed dream; with Dick Stockton providing the breathless commentary as a steal of home is attempted.
Dozens of albums have been release extolling the game and hundred of songs written. It comes as no surprise that no other game hold so many feelings to so many of us. Not football, (only a jaunty ditty penned by Johnny Mercer called "Jamboree Jones" comes to mind, along with a forgetable song called "You Gotta Be A Football Hero [To Get Along With The Beautiful Girls]".
So, what is your favorite musical recognition of a game we all know that is designed to break your heart?