THE MUSIC MAN
As the Savior said to Kinky Friedman when he ran into him in the men’s room, “You know, I ain’t no square”, but my enjoyment of last season’s local American Legion baseball was severely impaired by the young heroes’ walk-up music. For those of you who don’t make it out to the ole ballyard, walk-up music began its dreary presence at big-time ballparks a couple of generations ago when witty organists decided that it would be clever to play a few bars of, say, “Cry Me a River” when somebody named Hudson came to bat, or “Oklahoma” for Mickey Mantle. At first a number of them were humorous, but the tradition has long since deteriorated to playing a snatch of any old song the batter likes, of course leaving out whatever sensitive or romantic side said individual might possess.
Anyway, the music on offer last year was so risque as to embarrass a rap club at midnight; F-bombs, insults to the fair sex, and sex acts that would probably not be approved of by their mothers abounded, and, though I suppose that one can make a case that all this artistic excess was refreshing when presented under the auspices of an organization which is forever boasting of its commitment to God and Country, my initial bemusement soon deteriorated into puzzlement, which in turn evolved into a certain Dadish fear for the future of humanity.
Thus, when a new summer league for collegians came to town this year, I quailed at a supplement to the newspaper which introduced the new team members by sharing their answers to a cutesy opinionnaire which queried them on subjects such as their favorite food, their greatest accomplishment, and, yes, their walk-up music. I needn’t have feared for my moral purity, however, for out of thirty-some players, I had heard of exactly two of their walk-up songs.
As this century has advanced, I had become dimly aware that for the most part Millennials did not like rock music. Difficult for me to accept, for sure, but when somebody told me that one week the Billboard Top 10 contained no rock songs for the first time in, surely, fifty-some years, I considered myself resigned. Most of these walk-up songs that I hadn’t heard of seemed to be either rap or country, for I had heard of a few of the performers, and there were indeed a handful of songs by rock bands. Of the bands I had heard, but not the songs. And, hair band fans, please forgive me for never having gotten up to speed on the repertoire of Poison or Night Ranger.
At this point I could inject a little name-dropping of contemporary rock musicians whose works I enjoy, but since you might be reading this in Williamsburg, I won’t try to play the ‘hipper-than-thou’ card, but in any case I do admit to probably being happy enough with classic rock at ball games, since hereabouts when you let somebody DJ who considers himself a hipster, you’re probably going to get Dierks Bentley or One Direction.
But last night at the ole ballyard the Legion boys were whooping it up to big-time retro. From the faux-cool rap schlock of “Ice Ice Baby” and “U Can’t Touch This”, going back to that killer guitar riff from “Beat It” (or was that “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”?), and then heading back through eighties catastrophe “Jessie’s Girl”, and the luscious “Summer of ‘69”, the lads were rocking out, and it all proved out for them as they delivered a twelve-run outburst. Hell, one daredevil even walked up to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. Now there’s the King of Cool.