Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sports: The Hockey Edition

Kathleen Edwards: Hockey Skates


Jane Siberry: Hockey


Although I had plenty of songs I could have chosen for this theme (lots of baseball, and even a boxer... no, not the Simon and Garfunkel one), I'm not really a sports person - of course, at the eleventh hour, I remembered a tune I'd love to cover... and then discovered BoyHowdy already had...

So... since it's been a while, I'm re-upping that one... which made me think of the other one - Jane Siberry is a favorite for a few of us on this blog, and this song (although it drops a few f-bombs) is from her Child holiday live ensemble double-CD. From the liner notes:

"The wintry scenario depicted in "Hockey", though, was all fun in its performances here: The song takes a wistful look back at the fading joys of youth, and ends with the children who are playing hockey on the frozen river being called home for dinner. One by one, Jane called home her band, each member regressing back into childhood and comically expressing their displeasure."

Last-minute bonus topical track from Boyhowdy himself: THESE Hanson Brothers are a faux Canadian punk band named after the boys from the film SlapShot; they make entire albums about hockey in full-blown Ramones-era style...

The Hanson Brothers: The Hockey Song


Sports: Tournament of Hearts

The Weakerthans: Tournament of Hearts


Why, why can't I draw right up to what I want to say?
Why can't I ever stop where I want to stay?
I slide right through the day, I'm always throwing hack weight...

It's a bit more recent than our usual fare here on Star Maker Machine, but I just can't resist this deliciously grungy, perfectly Canadian 2007 tune from the Weakerthans, who use the name of their national women's curling championship and a full set of curling metaphors to frame the first-person story of a sad sack who suffers from communication problems in his marriage, no doubt because he spends all his time at the curling rink pursuing his other passion.

For those who make neither head nor tails of the song's deeper meaning upon first listen, Wikipedia offers a pretty comprehensive curling glossary.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sports: Cubs In Five

"...And the Chicago Cubs will beat every team in the league,
and the Tampa Bay Bucs will make it all the way to January,
and I will love you again...
I will love you, like I used to..."

Keep dreaming.

Sports: The Pugilist at 59

Tom Russell: The Pugilist at 59


Tom Russell gives us a vivid character sketch of a boxer whose glory days are gone. He remembers the feeling of getting in the ring and knowing he could beat anyone. But now he has met the one opponent he can never hope to defeat: aging.

Tom Russell, on the other hand, shows no sign of slowing down. He is known primarily as a Texas singer/ songwriter, as good as any of them. But he also incorporated Irish and Norwegian folk music into his “folk opera”, The Man From God Knows Where, in which Russell explored his family history. Russell’s album Hotwalker is a combination of music and spoken word pieces, created in collaboration with poet Charles Bukowski. The two have also published a book of their correspondence. And Russell also paints. So those who wish to look further into Russell’s work have plenty to explore. And it is a journey well worth taking.

Sports : Ray Mancini vs. Duk Koo Kim edition

Warren Zevon : Boom Boom Mancini


Sun Kil Moon : Duk Koo Kim


On November 13, 1982, 21-year-old lightweight champion Ray Mancini met 23-year-old South Korean challenger Duk Koo Kim. The fight that ensued is now famous for its tragic outcome : in the 14th round, Mancini hit a weakened Kim with a hard right, sending him flying into the ropes. The Korean hit the canvas with his head but somewhat managed to get back on his feet, but the referee stopped the bout. Shortly after the fight, Kim fell in a coma and died from brain injuries 4 days later.
Mancini went to Kim's funeral in South Korea, and fell into a deep depression, but he went back to the ring. But the tragedy was not over : both Kim's mother and the referee who hadn't stopped the bout earlier committed suicide, and the the WBC took steps to shorten its title bouts to a maximum of 12 rounds instead of 15.

Many thanks to my friend Søren from Denmark for suggesting me the Warren Zevon song (that I didn't know). "Some have the speed and the right combinations /If you can't take the punches it don't mean a thing " is one of the smartest things I've ever heard about boxing.

That song led me into reading Mancini's bio on Wiki and discovering that Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters had also made a song but this time about Kim with his other band Sun Kil Moon. The song lasts 14 minutes, like the number of rounds that Kim held before falling.

Sports: A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request

Steve Goodman: A Dying Cub Fan‘s Last Request


As I write this, baseball season is drawing to a close. The Cubs have not been eliminated from postseason contention yet, but it looks more and more likely. Steve Goodman would have understood. Goodman obviously loved music. His other great love was the city of Chicago in general, and the Cubs in particular. I’m sure he didn’t have to do any research to come up with the names of the players used in this song.

In 1969, Steve Goodman was diagnosed with leukemia. His musical career began the next year. The whole time he was making his wonderful music, Goodman lived with the knowledge that he was on borrowed time. He finally succumbed in 1984. Goodman was in the position to do something very few people can do: he put a last wish in a song for all to hear. After his death, Goodman’s ashes were indeed scattered over Wrigley Field. Shortly thereafter, the Cubs began a run of respectability that continues to this day. But even with Goodman watching over them, the Cubs have yet to reach the World Series. They are, after all, the Cubs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sports: Oh King Richard and Sunday Money

Kyle Petty: Oh King Richard


Flashback: July 4,1984. Daytona International Speedway. Richard Petty wins his 200th race in a career spanning 35 years with 7 Winston Cup Championships in 1185 starts. It would be his final win but a memorable one. Not only did his 200th win come on the 4th of July, it was also the first time a sitting U.S. president attended a NASCAR event. This second generation racecar driver earned his title 'The King'. His son Kyle once remarked, “I had to be the only child in this country who ever called his father 'The King.' ” A lesser known fact about Kyle may be that not only is he the 3rd generation driver in the legendary Petty family, he's a pretty good singer/songwriter as well. This tribute to his dad was also recorded by Rodney Crowell on an album called Street Language, but this is Kyle Petty, the singer, with a tribute fit for a king.

Brooks and Dunn: Sunday Money

[not available for sale]

Tied with The King for 7 Winston Cup Championships, Earnhardt was also a second generation racecar driver.The Man In Black, Ironhead, Mr. Restrictor Plate or The Intimidator. The Black Number 3. Love him or hate him, Earnhardt was a fierce competitor. But off the track he was just as passionate about music. Earnhardt met Kix Brooks in the early 90's and they became good friends. According to Brooks the writing of Sunday Money was Earnhardt's idea. It was only released as a special one-off deal with a T-shirt. Out of respect, the song was not re-released. There have been a number of songs that have mentioned Dale Earnhardt including The Tiki Bar Is Open by John Hiatt, but this song was co-written by The Man himself.

Sports: England 2 Colombia 0

Kirsty MacColl: England 2 Colombia 0


This isn’t a song about sports. Rather, the World Cup match between England and Colombia serves as a backdrop for the game being played by a man and a woman. They go on a date to a pub to root for England. She finds out that he is married. By the time England completes its decisive victory, she has learned sympathy for Colombia. This is a relationship tale as only Kirsty MacColl could tell it. She is sorely missed.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sports: When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease

Roy Harper: When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease


Roy Harper is best known for providing the lead vocals on Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar" and for being name-checked on the Led Zeppelin track "Hats Off to (Roy) Harper". Of his own recordings, "When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease" is perhaps his most well known.

The mix of acoustic guitar and brass band is not a combination you hear too often, but here it works fabulously, adding a healthy dose of atmosphere. I don't know a thing about cricket, but it hardly matters. The boozy recollections and sense of loss come clearly through.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sports: Tessie

Dropkick Murphys: Tessie


In 2004 DKM released Tessie. They made a prediction that year too. "We recorded this song in June 2004 and after giving it to the Red Sox told anyone that would listen that this song would guarantee a World Series victory."

The lyrics of this song give the history of how Tessie became the anthem of the Royal Rooters. During the 1903 World Series, the Royal Rooters led by Michael "Nuf Ced" McGreevy, taunted the opposing Pittsburgh Pirates. The Boston Americans were down 1-3 in the series and the Rooters knew their team needed a rally. So, the Royal Rooters began to change the lyrics to any song that they could think of. But it was Tessie that helped win the day. Interestly, the Royal Rooters stopped singing Tessie after Boston won the World Series in 1918, which began Boston's 86 year drought and the rest is history. Nuf said.