Music is truly the defining force in my life. It permeates into all of the things that I am and that I do. It would be safe to say that without it, I would be completely lost. I can remember that I would contemplate the songs that I wanted to hear during long nights of dorm guard duty in basic training. If I couldn’t have them now, I definitely wanted to catch up with them later.
Now, I find myself making mix CDs of the songs that I like and crafting them into moods, seasons, or various other aspects of my life. Currently, I find myself drafting the rough nature of a pair of CDs that will play for my time in the desert. So far, I find songs like Moe’s version of “In a Big Country,” Andrew Birds’ “Tables and Chairs,” and Dave Matthews’ “Lie in our Graves” joining to transition through many other songs by a variety of artists. Of course, I’ve found that some songs just don’t play well in the mood despite the artists needed to be represented in some capacity. John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” and M. Ward’s “Right in the Head” come to mind there.
No matter what ends up there, it will truly represent all things great and happy with spring. Baseball will find its way on there as well. Steve Earle’s “Some Things” and John Fogerty’s “Blue Moon Nights,” which were from the Rookie, and The Baseball Project’s “Past Time” are already guaranteed spots, but other than that, there aren’t really any songs that spring to life and represent the great game in a way that isn’t cliché (“Centerfield”) or just hokey.
The latter describes Terry Cashman’s elevator expression “Talkin’ Baseball,” which spoke nostalgically for the great game, but really didn’t carry over into the 21st century in the way that anyone would have hoped. It was a simpler tune for an era when card collecting became popular and people dug through the attics to find out if Mom threw away the shoeboxes or if the kids were going to get the college paid for. Now, it’s better known for the other version from the Simpsons (“Talkin’ Softball). Apparently, Cashman has various versions of the song for other teams and has even written a song about Manny Ramirez, but frankly, I can’t see how that would sell anything.
Thus, it’s about time that we have another milestone effort for baseball. If the Baseball Project is as close as we come, then I’ll take their take on baseball history and “super group” nature that brings R.E.M. and Young Fresh Fellows and that 80s jangly pop sound and run with it. As is, their songs for Curt Flood, Ted Williams, Harvey Haddix, and Jack McDowell are all great little pop nuggets that would work even without the baseball references.
Lou Reed really said it best about life being saved by rock and roll. It would just be nice if baseball was saved by the true spirit of rock and roll instead of perfectly timed advertisements that told people when to cheer on the home team (woo hoo!).