Tuesday Tunes (on a Thursday): Diamond Ditty #13 – “All the Way” by Eddie Vedder

3 11 2016

Somewhere my grandfather is smiling, and he’s probably still jubilant just like this city is.  I’ve thought about him so many times today, because I know he’s happy.  The Cubs didn’t win it all in his lifetime, but they won it this year.

Last night was about as good as it gets if you’re a baseball fan.  Except if you’re one who hails from Cleveland.  And even the Cleveland fans have to appreciate the greatness of the game.

The comeback from 3-1.  Then in Game 7.  Cubs go up early.  And often. Blowing the lead.  Battling through the 9th inning.  Winning it in the 10th.  It probably wasn’t the greatest World Series of all time, but it’s up there, and it may have been the greatest game 7.

For one small stretch, I found myself a Cubs fan, and as a transplant from Cincy, I’ve probably lost my 4-year old to the team in blue.  I’m fine with that.

Artist/Title/Album: “All the Way” by Eddie Vedder (2008)

eddie-vetter-all-the-way-cover

First sung by Vedder in 2007, and recorded/released as a single in 2008.

Description:  Eddie Vedder was born in Evanston and grew up there before moving to California.  He took his Cubs fandom with him and has always been one of the more notable Cubs fans – maybe just behind Bill Murray.

He attended the Cubs pre-season fantasy camp a number of times, and one year Ernie Banks asked him to write a song about the Cubs.  He honored the request and first played it at a Pearl Jam concert in Chicago a few days before Lollapalooza in 2007.  He recorded it over a few dates in 2008, and released it as a single (it’s under his name, not the band’s).

How it’s related to baseball:  The song is about being a Cubs fan.  It touches on the sanctity of Wrigley Field and the eternal optimism of the folks rooting for the lovable losers (can you even use that phrase any more?).

Vedder sings it from the heart; you can feel his fandom in the versions of the song I’ve heard.  It’s somewhere between the two famous Steve Goodman songs – not as upbeat as “Go Cubs Go”, but not as downtrodden or cynical as “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request”.  You can tell Vedder believed they were going to win it all in his lifetime.  Last night proved him right.

My favorite lyric is when he talks about keeping score as a little kid.  Famous people do the same weird crap I did when I was young!

There are 3 videos of the song worth showing.  First, here’s the original, which I think was filmed in 2008, but not released until a few months ago.

Next, here’s an abridged version the Cubs released today that updates it with celebration from 2016.

Finally, here’s my favorite.  Ernie Banks died just before the 2015 season started.  As mentioned, Banks was the impetus for this song, and a humbled Vedder performed it the day Banks passed away.  He changed one lyric, in the last verse to say “I wish he’d live 200 years” – talking about Banks.  Vedder references the concert he played in 2013 at Wrigley, when he played this song and Banks came on stage.  A bunch of my friends attended that concert.  I did not – I’m not a big music fan.  But I lived 2 blocks from Wrigley at that time and I sat out on my porch listening to the concert.

When you’re born in Chicago
You’re blessed and you’re healed.
The first time you walk into Wrigley Field.

We know someday we’ll go all the way
Yeah
Someday we’ll go all the way!

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Tuesday Tunes: Diamond Ditty #12 – “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request” by Steve Goodman

25 10 2016

I’m a Reds fan but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Cubs.  My mom is from Chicago and I live there now.  My Grandfather lived there for most of his 90+ years, and growing up I always associated the Cubs with “Grumpa”.  He passed away last winter and I’m hoping they win the title because I know it would make him smile.  With the World Series starting tonight, I thought this would be appropriate.

steve-goodman-affordable-art

Artist/Title/Album: “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request” by Steve Goodman (Affordable Art, 1984)

Also Included on No Big Surprise (1994), a posthumous collection of Goodman’s songs

Steve Goodman No Big Surprise

Description:  The song was written in the early 1980’s by folk singer Steve Goodman, a lifelong Chicagoan and Cubs fan.  Goodman originally wrote the song in early 1983, debuting it on Roy Leonard’s WGN Radio Show.  The song laments about the Cubs historic failures; naturally, it wasn’t played at Wrigley Field.  Goodman is talking (as opposed to singing) for most of the song.

This song eventually led to a more upbeat song in 1984, when WGN asked Goodman to pen a song they could use on their broadcasts.  Thus “Go Cubs Go” was born.  WGN played that song on their Opening Day broadcast that year, and it caught on as the Cubs made the playoffs for the first time in almost 4 decades.

Goodman was a Grammy-winning folk singer born in Chicago who got his break when he opened at a Chicago show for Kris Kristofferson.  This led to a string of events in which his song, “City of New Orleans” was covered by Arlo Guthrie.  The Guthrie cover got to #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 list, and enabled Goodman to work full-time as a musician.  A number of other famous musicians covered it, including Willie Nelson whose recording reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Country list.  That recording earned Goodman a Grammy for Best Country Song in 1985.  Goodman won a 2nd posthumous Grammy for his album “Unfinished Business” in 1988.

How it’s related to baseball:  The song describes an old Cubs fan on his deathbed.  It’s tongue in cheek – the man laments the anguish from being a Cubs fan and asks to have his funeral at Wrigley.  Everyone can have a frosty malt 2 peanut bags, and his ashes will get blown out onto Waveland Avenue.

Sadly, the song is kind of about Goodman himself.  Though he was a successful musician, he battled Leukemia for most of his adult life and died a year or so after this song was written. He succumbed to a 15-year battle with Leukemia a few days before the end of the 1984 season.  Jimmy Buffett sang the National Anthem in his friend’s stead at the first playoff game at Wrigley that year.

Steve Goodman Cubs singles

Do they still play the blues in Chicago
When baseball season rolls around
When the snow melts away,
Do the Cubbies still play
In their ivy-covered burial ground





Tuesday Tunes: Diamond Ditty #11 – “Downtown” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

19 07 2016

1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr

One of the most notable cards in the industry’s history is the 1989 card #1.  A lot of baseball card collectors will be thinking about that card when Ken Griffey Jr. gives his induction speech this weekend.  And this song actually has a part with a shout out to that card.

Artist/Title/Album:  “Downtown” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, 2016)

The single was released in August 2015.

Macklemore Downtown Cover

Description:  The song is the first single on the hip hop duos second full studio album – their follow-up to their Grammy-winning LP The Heist.  The song is an upbeat tribute to getting around on mopeds, which the duo use to get around after concerts.  Kool Moe Dee, Melle Mel, Grandmaster Caz and Eric Nally are all featured in the song.

The video became extremely popular when it was released – helping the song move up the Billboard charts.

How it’s related to baseball:  The duo both grew up in Seattle and, naturally, are huge Ken Griffey Jr. fans.  After Macklemore met the Kid, they got along and he was able to get Griffey to participate in the video shoot.  Griffey is shown at Pike Place fish Market posing in the same manner as the now-famous Upper Deck rookie card.  He has to drop his bat when someone throws him a frozen fish.

Macklemore Downtown Griffey

Stopped by Pike Place, throw a fish to a player

Griffey also shows up at the end of the video riding his own moped.

Recognition:

  • Peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100

It will probably get some love for MTV video of the year when the VMAs come out.

Downtown, Downtown (Downtown)
Downtown, Downtown
She has her arms around your waist
With a balance that will keep her safe





Tuesday Tunes: Diamond Ditty #10 – “Willie, Mickey and the Duke (Talkin’ Baseball)” by Terry Cashman

13 07 2016

In a just over a week I’ll be flying out to New York and heading to Cooperstown for the annual induction ceremony.  I’m probably going to do a lot of posts around this trip, including some ancillary to it like this one.  This post is of the Tuesday Tunes variety.  Now I do realize that it’s a day late.  But hopefully it’s not a dollar short.

Artist/Title/Album:  “Willie, Mickey and the Duke (Talkin’ Baseball)” by Terry Cashman (1981)

The song was released as a single, with “It’s Easy to Sing a Love Song” as the B-side.  In 1982, Cashman released 2 separate Talkin’ Baseball collections – one for the AL and one for the NL.

Terry Cashman Willie Mickey Duke

Description:  This is a classic song focused on what many consider the golden age of baseball.  In the 1950’s, baseball was still our National Pastime, New York was its capital, and the 3 Big Apple teams had Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider patrolling center field.  The song is written and performed by Terry Cashman, a pop-folk singer who made his name producing and singing in the late 60’s and 70’s.  Performing, he had his greatest success with the group Cashman, Pistilli & West.  They founded Lifesong Records, which is what Talkin’ Baseball was released under.

Cashman was a (brief) former minor league baseball player – he played in the Tigers organization under his given name Dennis Minogue.  He always had a love of baseball, and in 1981 during the strike, Cashman saw a photo of Mantle, Mays, Snider and Joe DiMaggio at a 1977 Old Timers’ Game at Shea Stadium.

Snider-Dimaggio-Mays-Mantle

He loved the picture, and after a few conversations he decided to write a song about it.  He couldn’t get the words to fit, until he realized that DiMaggio wasn’t really in the same era of the other 3.  That’s when the catchy chorus “Willie, Mickey and the Duke” was born.  Cashman got the rights to use the photo, airbrushed DiMaggio out of it, and used it as the cover for the record.  And it’s become one of the most famous baseball ballads ever since.

Recognition:  The song didn’t really get any recognition on Billboard when released, though it was well-known in the baseball world.  I’ve read a few places it made the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart – but I can’t verify that in their archives.  Cashman and the song were honored in 2011 at the Baseball Hall of Fame induction; he performed the tune on the Saturday portion of the festivities.

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s a song about the glory days of 1950’s New York baseball – when the city had 3 teams and the best 3 center fielders in the game.  Arguments of who was better between Mays, Mantle and Snider just depended on what borough you were from.  But the song is basically a mini-baseball encyclopedia of references to great players up to that time.  Players referenced in the song are as early as Ted Williams and Bob Feller who started a little earlier than the New York trio, up to Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt, who had just helped the Phillies to their first World Series win.

Other:  Shockingly, there has been only one baseball card made with all 3 players on it.  This is from a set by Dick Perez showcasing Hall of Famers in a Turkey Red design – from back in the 80’s before retro sets were all the rage.

Perez Steele Willie Mickey Duke

For a little more reading on the song – take a look at this link.

We’re talkin’ baseball! Kluszewski, Campanella,
The Man and Bobby Feller,
The Scooter, the Barber and the Newk,
They knew ’em all from Boston to Dubuque.
Especially Willie… Mickey and the Duke.

The link to the YouTube for this song is here:





Tuesday Tunes: Diamond Ditty #9 – “Love Ain’t No Triple Play” by Bennie Wallace

5 07 2016

Here’s my ninth “Tuesday Tunes” – where I post about a song that has something to do with baseball!  This one comes a few weeks after my post on the movie “Bull Durham“, and it’s probably the least known song I’ve done thus far.  At least, I’d never heard of it until I re-watched the movie!

Artist/Title/Album:  “Love Ain’t No Triple Play” by Bennie Wallace featuring Dr. John & Bonnie Raitt (Bull Durham Soundtrack, 1988)

Bull Durham soundtrack

Description:  I don’t think there’s too much as far as special background to this.  Bennie Wallace was a fairly notable saxophone player who was asked to contribute to the Bull Durham soundtrack.  The move was a greenlit project that had some decent names then made some careers.  They got Dr. John and Bonnie Raitt to sing the collaboration together – right before, or maybe right around – when Raitt was becoming a big commercial success.  This probably helped her career, but it was hardly defining.  It’s a great song, though I think it gets forgotten a bit.

 

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s the credits song on a baseball movie, and it uses a baseball metaphor as the chorus.  It’s not as notable as some of the other songs I’ve done – but it’s a good listen.

Love ain’t no triple play
It’s just me and you … All the way





Tuesday Tunes: Diamond Ditty #8 – “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer

5 04 2016

Happy day after Opening Day!  Or, if you’re a Tigers or Marlins fan, happy Opening Day!

In honor of Opening Day, I thought the most famous baseball song of them all was in order.  It’s been over 100 years since it was released, but the Anthem of our National Pastime is more recognizable than ever.  It’s also one of 3 or 4 songs I sing to my son most nights before he goes to bed (the long version, not just what you hear during the 7th inning stretch).

Artist/Title/Album: “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer (1908)

First performed by Nora Bayes.  First recorded by Edward Meeker.

Ed Meeker Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Description:  29-year-old songwriter Jack Norworth was inspired to pen the words when he was riding a New York subway in 1908.  Baseball was becoming increasingly popular in the early part of the 20th century, and Norworth saw a sign advertising to go to a NY Giants game:  “Baseball Today – Polo Grounds”.  He got his friend, Albert von Tilzer, to compose the music for the tune, and his wife, Nora Bayes, performed it for vaudeville audiences.  Edward Meeker was the first singer to record the song, while the most successful version at that time was the one performed by the Haydn Quartet.

The verses to the song are about a young girl, Katie Casey, who had baseball fever – she spends any money she has at the ballgame and knows “all the players and all their names”.  She turns down the ask of her “young beau” to go to a show, instead claiming she will only go on a date if he takes her to a baseball game.

Recognition:  This was the very early days of the recording industry, so Billboard didn’t exist yet.  Nonetheless, the song was almost immediately a hit, and was particularly popular because it lent itself to the audience singing along.

  • The version sung by the Haydn Quartet became the #1 song on the sales charts, on October 31, 1908, after the memorable Cubs comeback during the 1908 baseball season.  It stayed atop the charts for 6 weeks, matching the longest #1 run of any individual version of a song that year (though 2 different recordings of the song “The Glow-Worm” had a combined run of 11 weeks).
  • In 2001, the RIAA ranked it as the #8 song of the 20th century, behind a few songs like “Over the Rainbow” and “American Pie” but ahead of many others like “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.
  • On July 16, 2008, the USPS issued a 42¢ stamp to commemorate the popular song in honor of its 100th anniversary.
  • In 2008 the song became the 14th winners pf the Towering Song Award, given out song for their cultural influence.  The Songwriters Hall of Fame, which gives out the Towering Song Award, also inducted Norworth as a member.  Norworth got a lifetime pass from MLB to ballgames in 1958.
  • In 2010, the recording was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress, meaning it was determined to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

1994 Upper Deck American Epic Take Me Out Ballgame

The full version of the song, with the 2 verses, got a little more publicity when Ken Burns’ baseball documentary came out.  The song was the main theme of the documentary, with versions recorded Carly Simon and Dr. John for the PBS broadcast.  Upper Deck made a set associated with that documentary, and the song was immortalized with the card above.

How it’s related to baseball:  Obviously, it’s a song about going to a ballgame.  Today the song is played at every MLB game in between the top and the bottom of the 7th inning.  It’s become associated with the game to the point where “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is considered one of the 3 most recognizable songs in America, behind “Happy Birthday” and “The Star Spangled Banner”.  The song has been recorded too many times to count, from Meeker to Frank Sinatra to the Goo Goo Dolls to Aretha Franklin.  Stan Musial would play the song on his harmonica to open the ceremonies at the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Stan Musial Take Me Out BBHOF

It’s probably associated with Harry Caray as much or more than anyone else.  It was Caray who turned the song from a popular organ selection to the tune that every park plays in the 7th inning stretch.

harry-caray

When Caray joined the White Sox in 1976, owner Bill Veeck noticed he would sing the words when the organ played “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.  Veeck actually asked Caray if he’d sing the song for the whole park, but was refused.  Legend has it that somebody turned on a microphone and Caray first did it unwittingly – but from what I’ve read he was eventually convinced by Veeck to go along with the idea.  White Sox fans loved it and joined him in the song.  When Caray moved the Cubs, he continued the tradition and the National broadcast by WGN had the whole country loving the idea.  Every park now plays the song in the 7th inning stretch, though they substitute some variant of their team’s name for the words “home team”.

2016 Topps Wrigley 100 Take Me Out Ballgame Maddux Banks

When Caray passed away, the Cubs switched to exclusively having guest singers.

Katie Casey was baseball mad,
Had the fever and had it bad.
Just to root for the hometown crew,
Every sou, Katie blew.
On a Saturday, her young beau,
Called to see if she’d like to go,
To see a show but miss Kate said “No,
I’ll tell you what we can do:”

Take me out to the ballgame,
Take me out to with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don’t care if I never come back!
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
if they don’t win it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out
At the old, ballgame!





Tuesday Tunes: Diamond Ditty #7 – “Meet The Mets” by Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz

27 10 2015

It’s World Series night!

I did one of these posts a week ago, and the Cubs didn’t do so well after my post about their theme song.  Next up, keeping with the times, it’s time for the theme song of the team that beat them.

Meet the Mets sheet

Artist/Title/Album: “Meet the Mets” by Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz (1961)

Description:  The Giants and Dodgers left the New York boroughs at the end of the 1957 season, heading west for a more promising financial future.  The Yankees were still on top of the baseball world, but that didn’t appease fans of National League baseball.  At the beginning of the 1960’s, New York was without a National League team after having at least two for almost all of MLB’s existence.

The Mets, set to play in the Polo Grounds while Shea Stadium was built in Queens, were baseball’s answer.  They started in 1962, but before their first game, the team’s front office was doing all it could to endear the jilted Giant and Dodger fans to the new team.  They ran contests to determine the Mets logo and a theme song for the new ball club.  They picked the song written by collaborators Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz, who had already penned a few baseball hits like “I love Mickey”.  The song had a positive tempo and vibe.  This was important for a team that would lose a record 120 games in its first season and wouldn’t post a winning record until the end of the decade.

Meet the Mets 1996 CD

The song has been tweaked a bit over the years; the Mets gave away a CD to fans at a 1996 Shea Stadium game that had 4 versions of it.  But the original version is still a classic.

Recognition:  The song has been featured on a number of TV shows:

  • George sings “Meet the Mets” in the Seinfeld episode “Millennium” where he tries to get fired from the Yankees so he can become the Mets director of scouting.
  • In the Everybody Loves Raymond episode “Big Shots“, Ray and Bob break the ice of an argument by singing “Meet the Mets”.
  • “Meet the Mets” is featured on a “This is SportsCenter” commercial.

How it’s related to baseball:  “Meet the Mets” has been the official theme song of the Mets since it’s release in early 1963.  The team has played the song at various points in a ballgame throughout its history.  You can still find lyrics to the song on the Mets website, and I’m sure they’ll be playing it all over New York if the team can win 4 games over the next 9 days.

Meet the Mets,
Meet the Mets,
Step right up and greet the Mets!