a week early and half the world away), today's Top Five covers music that makes people all over think of the national pastime - despite the actual song having absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with baseball. Enjoy.
5: "The Boys of Summer" (Don Henley)
"My love for you will still be strong, after the Boys of Summer have gone."
A classic end-of-summer song about lost love; Rolling Stone called this song one of the 500 greatest of all time, and it gets regular airplay on classic rock stations across the country. So why is it a regular feature at baseball stadiums - and as the soundtrack to season highlight reels? It shares a name - and, on some levels, a theme - with a famed book written in the early '70s about the Brooklyn Dodgers heading to the 1955 World Series before leaving for Los Angeles (and leaving plenty of broken hearts behind) in 1957, and tracing the player's lives after the game. (Roger Kahn, the author, took the name from a Dylan Thomas poem: "I see the boys of summer in their ruin.")
4: "Charge" (Thomas Walker)
"da da da DUT da DAH - CHARGE!"
This six-note tune was actually put together by a USC drum major by the name of Thomas Walker, and not for baseball but for college football and the Southern Cal Trojans in the early 1950s. In a tie-in to #5 on this list, the song made the leap from football to baseball in 1958 when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, and it's been pretty much everywhere since.
3: "Sweet Caroline" (Neil Diamond) / "New York, New York" (Frank Sinatra)
"Sweet Caroline - good times never seemed so good"
"If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere"
This song is played at the (middle of the eighth inning / end) of every (Boston Red Sox / New York Yankees) home game. Usually, a rather inebriated group of (Bostoners / New Yorkers) and bandwagon fans will sing along at the top of their voices. (Yankee / Red Sox) fans can't stand the song, and are probably upset about its inclusion on this list. Unfortunately, I'm a Cleveland Indians fan. You should feel lucky this isn't "Cleveland Rocks" (Presidents of the United States of America).
2: "Wild Thing" (Chip Taylor)
"Wild Thing, you make my heart sing"
H/T to my wife for reminding me of this one; Wild Thing was covered dozens of times, by the Troggs (hit #1 in 1967), Jimi Hendrix, and Animal from The Muppets. My all-time favorite version is by a punk band called 'X', and is the reason for making it onto this list in the first place - used in the movie Major League as the theme for Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn's entrance out of the bullpen. Any reliever with even a halfway decent fastball worth his salt since then has at least considered using it as entrance music (and a few - Mitch Williams and Jonathan Papelbon at least - have). Plus, winning.
1: "The Star-Spangled Banner" (Everyone)
Fifty-thousand fans all stand up, get quiet, and put their hats on their chest. It's not a ballgame unless the National Anthem is played - could be by the popular recording artist of the day, a local school chorale, or even an old tape recording from the pressbox. Home of the brave = time to play ball.