Something about America’s pastime inspires whimsical paeans from even the generally sports-ambivalent world of indie rock. Just ask Death Cab For Cutie frontman Benjamin Gibbard, who took a break from prepping his solo debut, Former Lives (out via Barsuk 10/16), to post a long-dormant track titled “Ichiro’s Theme” to Soundcloud. Gibbard was reflecting on yesterday’s bittersweet trade that sent his beloved Seattle Mariners’ Hall of Fame-bound international superstar, Ichiro Suzuki, to the New York Yankees.
But Gibbard is far from alone among musicians when it comes to tributes to the Boys of Summer. Here are six more unabashedly novel baseball-inspired tracks from punks, moonlighting rock stars, and bedroom folkies alike.
The Baseball Project (Featuring Craig Finn) – “Don’t Call Them Twinkies”
Hold Steady frontman, Midwest native, and noted New York transplant Craig Finn has a point about his home-state Minnesota Twins: Despite World Series titles in the 1987 and ’91 of his youth, and perennial postseason appearances throughout the 2000s, those Great Lakes mashers consistently get the Rodney Dangerfield treatment from bicoastal types. While contributing guest vocals to Peter Buck and Steve Wynn’s ongoing Baseball Project on 2011′s High And Inside, Finn may have exercised some underdog hyperbole by declaring, “These are heroes,” but he’s otherwise wholly justified in encouraging fans to “wave those Homer Hankies” and, of course, “Please don’t call them Twinkies.”
Eddie Vedder – “All The Way”
Like fellow classic-rock acolyte and Middle American Finn, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder aligns himself with a scrappy Central-division mainstay. Unlike Finn’s occasionally successful Twins, though Vedder’s beleaguered Chicago Cubs are primarily notorious for coming just shy of glory. 2008 marked an improbable 100 years of World Series futility by the proud, storied Cubbies, compelling Vedder to officially release his single, “All The Way.” The acoustic, plaintive rallying cry insists that, “Someday we’ll go all the way,” poignantly references Wrigley Field as “our diamond, our jewel” and boasts, “We are not fair-weather but foul-weather fans.” Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, fuck ‘em.
Dropkick Murphys – “Tessie”
At this point, the Dropkick Murphys are veritable ambassadors of Boston. Their music teems of Irish-Catholic struggle and triumph, barrels through the soundtrack of locally focused movies like The Departed, and blares out of Fenway Park PAs with violent intent. But as it happens, the Red Sox approached them in 2004 with the idea of re-imaging this old vaudeville tune about turn-of-the-century BoSox fanatics called the Royal Rooters into a rollicking contemporary team anthem. The timing was, of course, perfect. Boston won their first World Series in nearly a century that October, and even if the lyrics to “Tessie” are tangentially baseball-oriented at best, the song will forever be entrenched in Yawkey Way lore.
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