too much typing—since 2003


the ball is gone in a flash...

For several years now, I've coordinated a swap of mix CDs - for long enough, in fact, that it was originally a swap of mix tapes. (I'm sure if it survives another year or so, it'll be a swap of mp3s...) Anyway, for some curious reason I decided to make a mix full of songs whose titles contained the names or nicknames of baseball players - whether the song had anything to do with the player or not (in a couple of cases, I don't think so...and in a couple more, it was the band rather than the song that was named after a ballplayer). The full track listing is here. The title (and the cover art, which I revised slightly to a less messed-with version of the same image) is derived from Barbara Manning's brilliant track with SF Seals, "Dock Ellis" - about the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher who, he says, in 1970 pitched a no-hitter on acid. The song also incorporates some more Ellis lore, such as the time he intentionally hit the first several batters in the Cincinnati Reds' lineup. Something about the tunnel-y sound effects, and the generally droney aspect of the song, conveys a sort of disoriented yet intensely focused sensation that (I suppose) must have been what Ellis felt. (The song's also a good example of how to make a chord change count: drone on the same chord for a minute and a half, and when you finally do change the chord, it hits like...well, a fastball to the chest.)

The mix opens with late-seventies Milwaukee act The Blackholes' tribute to Braves pitcher Warren Spahn - that organ lick with its ringing harmonic stuck in my head for about twenty years. (Thanks to Jon'derneathica for ripping the track from a ratty old 45 and sending it to me.) On the mix the applause at the end fades into the little bit from Buffalo Springfield's "Broken Arrow" where the organist plays the first few notes of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," whose last dischord in turn is crossfaded with the opening of Warren Zevon's "Bill Lee." (Curiously - at least in my database, and among the collections of people who helped me assemble the mix - rockers seem quite fond of pitchers over all other position players. Why? Who knows...)

The last track on the mix is a bonus track of sorts: "Runs in the Family" by The Pursuit of Happiness. No baseball player there...except as a sort of British crossword-puzzle clue: TPOH's main writer was named Moe Berg, and Moe Berg was also the name of a (quite fascinating) baseball player... (No actual relation, as far as I know - but "Runs in the Family" seemed the best hint I could provide as to the track's inclusion.)

SF Seals "Dock Ellis"
The Blackholes "Warren Spahn"
The Pursuit of Happiness "Runs in the Family"


Anonymous said...

Mo Berg: Something like: "He could speak five languages and hit in none.''

chris said...

What a great idea for a playlist. I myself love baseball, and have heard only about half of these songs.