I have a novelty record by Bruce Springstone with his Fred Flintstone version of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" that many people mistake for the real Springsteen in one his great lapses in taste. ("Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" is the real deal.) And while some of you might find the mixing of music and sports to be a very bad idea, Huey Lewis thought so much of it he named one of his hit albums Sports. (Don't worry, that list is coming next!)
Since it's October and the baseball playoffs are upon us and everyone expects a list about it, and I am a shameless sycophant, I offer you five songs about baseball.
John Fogerty--"Centerfield": Creedence Clearwater Revival were one thing. But when John Fogerty decided to come back he did so riding the wave of Americana that was Born In The U.S.A. and just like a bad, overpriced hot dog spoiling in the sun, Fog delivered this song that still gets played whenever the skies turn to April and the kids are whiffing up the pine tar. Boy is this tune lousy!
Meat Loaf--"Paradise By The Dashboard Light": Leave it to Meat to discover the metaphor, to deeply probe the connection between the baseball diamond and complicated sexual relations, how man damns himself and his entire life in the need to score the big run of adolescence. By adding Yankee shortstop and broadcaster Phil Rizzuto to the mix, Meat authenticates the connection between scoring an inside the park home run and getting a young lass pregnant. How many songs can say the same?
Paul Simon--"Night Game": Leave it to Paul Simon, Mr. Happy Pants, to find a way to make a song with a baseball metaphor depressing. This from a guy who immortalized Joe DiMaggio in song. If Simon were a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, I could understand his desperation, his sense of failure, futility and loss. But as a New Yorker, as someone who's witnessed surreal Yankee success and Mets improbabilities, he really should be a lot happier and have himself a pretzel.
Mountain Goats--"Cubs In Five": Now here's a great song that understands improbabilities. "Bill Gates will single-handedly spearhead the Heaven 17 Revival"? Right on! However, it's been noted to me by others who pay attention to these things that the Tampa Bay Bucs did eventually "make it all the way to January" and win the Super Bowl, which apparently is a big game for football fans. However, the Cubs still suck!
Main Source--"Just A Friendly Game Of Baseball": Hip-hop from the early '90s was just so damned sneaky. How else to explain a song with such a harmless title that goes on to discuss not the finer points of a squeeze play, or the majestical power of the 3-run homer, but police brutality and racial profiling? Did you know I batted .000 my first year in Little League? Now imagine being my dad.