Song List – The Baseball 8
The “Boys of Summer” are back on the brick dust and baseball season is underway, locally and in the big leagues. Whether we penned this or heard it somewhere else, baseball is truly the background music of summer, and the Sonoma Valley had a big part in it all. Old-timers will remember back when we had no major league ball on the West Coast, as the Giants and Dodgers didn’t get here until the late ‘50s, but there was a big baseball following here for the Pacific Coast League, with the Oakland Oaks and the San Francisco Seals making their spring training homes here in the Valley at ball fields and resorts here in Boyes Hot Springs. Many of the summer resorts in the Springs and El Verano were destinations for fans that came up from the Bay Area at the turn of the century. Names like Joe DiMaggio and Lefty Gomez came up in the Pacific Coast League before moving to the Major Leagues.
So what does all this have to do with music? Jazz has had many versions of itself; Chicago, St. Louis, New Orleans and East and West coast styles, but there seems to be no argument where the word “Jazz” originated, and that was right here in Boyes Hot Springs on March 8, 1913, when “Scoop” Gleason was reporting for the San Francisco Bulletin on the San Francisco Seals baseball performance, akin to todays version of the can of “Whopass,” Gleason wrote that the Seals had been “ … keeping their jazz in a can…and opening it at the tap of a gong…” It was later referred to by the local musicians, when asked “What kind of music are you playing?” “Oh, it’s just some Jazz…”
With that in mind, let’s lay out the top eight baseball songs, with a decidedly NorCal twist and have some summer fun.
- Catfish – Bob Dylan
Originally recorder in 1976 and meant for the album “Desire,” the track is a tribute to Oakland A’s pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter didn’t make the cut until 1991 when it was released on the “Rare Recordings” compilation. Joe Cocker actually covered it in 1976 on the “Stingray” album
- Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen
I guess technically this should be ranked higher, but since I’m not a big fan of “The Boss” and it’s my list, it goes here. Released in 1984 on the ‘Glory Days” album, the song is not entirely about baseball, but harkens back to many memories of Springsteen’s formative years, which included baseball. The song hit #5 on the Billboard charts in the summer of 1985.
- Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball? – Woodrow Johnson and Count Basie
Both writers released the song in 1949, and with the color barrier breaking, it became an instant classic with baseball fans.
- Talkin’ Baseball – Terry Cashman
A baseball ballad that laments the days and times of heroes gone from the past. In 1981, the song was released during the baseball strike of that year. Written in just 20 minutes, the song reflects back on the glory days of baseball from the ‘50s to the ‘80s, as after the strike, for better or worse, baseball would never be the same.
- Say Hey – The Treiners
The act was one of the crossover bands that was migrating popular music from swing to rock and roll, along the lines of Bill Haley, who was influenced by the bands stage antics. Although this particular song didn’t chart, the act had many hits in the swing era.
- Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio – Alan Courtney and Ben Homer
Joe Dimaggio was larger than life and one of the biggest names in the modern baseball era. With his movie-star wife Marilyn Monroe, the couple were seen as all-American. In 1941, DiMaggio, fresh out of the Pacific Coast League, took nbaseball by storm. The song was released in the middle of DiMaggios 56 game hitting streak.
- Take Me Out to the Ballgame – Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer
Written in 1908, the song, ironically, was written by two people who had never been to a baseball game. The song we all sing today in the middle of the seventh inning, or the “Seventh Inning Stretch” is actually the chorus of the original song, inspired by a sign at the Polo Grounds in New York where the Giants played, which simply said “Baseball Today.”
- Centerfield – John Fogerty
Some might argue that #2 should be #1, but this song has taken over as the most popular baseball song ever, and lour favorite, with Fogerty being the only musician elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame for penning the number. It took 10 years for Fogerty to recover from the carnage left by him losing all his songs he wrote for CCR, and the song was the title track of his comeback album. Most of the players mentioned in the song were center fielders. Released in 1985, the song hit #44 on the Billboard charts.
Soundbytes – Bits and Pieces
Sonoman’s will be “Feeing the Bern” in the Valley on Sunday, April 24, at the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building when many like-minded folks will be getting together for a barbecue and live music to benefit the Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
The day kicks off at 2 p.m. with speeches and hoopla, then at 4 p.m. the Junior Boogie Band opens the show. Boogie has played with numerous folk here and beyond, and was voted best harmonica player of the year in 2012 by the Bay Area Blues Societies West Coast Hall of Fame, so you never really know who Boogie is going to show up with him on stage.
Next up is Tommy Thomsen and friends. Thomsen was inducted into the Western Swing Hall of Fame in Sacramento years ago and many other local branches since. Thomsen, a born and raised Sonoman, is no stranger to committing to his cause and belief, even spending 18 months in Lompoc Federal Prison during the Vietnam-era for his conscientious objector status. His act never disappoints.
Wrapping up the evening is another artist steeped in his convictions ands beliefs, Barry “The Fish” Melton. Melton was the founding member of Country Joe and the Fish, who performed at Monterey Pop in ’67 and Woodstock as well. Melton might be best known for his song “The “Fish” Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag,” which became an anthem of the hippie counterculture era, and also got him banned from network television. The song contains the famous lyrics. “…And it’s one, two, three, what are we fighting for? Don’t ask me I don’t give a damn Next stop is Vietnam…” Melton later passed the bar exam in 1982 and became a deputy public defender in Mendocino County as well as having his own criminal defense practice. Melton and his band have played locally occasionally, and lately has contained the likes of members of Big Brother, the Youngbloods and others.
There is a cover at the door but no one will be turned away if they don’t have it. Food and no-host beer and wine will be available. The event is family friendly and open to the public.
Rundown – The Set List
Annex Wine Bar, 865 W. Napa St. Sonoma, 938-7779
Tonight, April 22: Mark Larson Band. 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 23: Hi-Fi Shakedown. 7:30 p.m.
Barking Dog Roasters, 18133 Sonoma Hwy. Sonoma, 939-1905
Saturday, April 23: Dave Bingham. 3 p.m.
Sunday, April 24: Paul Christopulos. 3 p.m.
B. R. Cohn Winery, 15000 Sonoma Hwy. Glen Ellen, 800-330-4064
Sunday, April 24: Dustin Saylor. 2 p.m.
B&V Whiskey Bar and Grille, 400 First St. E. Sonoma, 938-7110
Tonight, April 22: DJ Lionize. 9 p.m.
Saturday, April 23: DJ Hi – C. 9 p.m.
Flatbed Farm, 13450 Sonoma Hwy, Glen Ellen
Dale Henry Geist, Uncle Poncho, Jonah Raskin, Bluegrass Bus, Stacey Tuel with JMB
Friday Farmers Market, Depot Park, 270 First St W. Sonoma
Today, April 22: Stewart Degner. 9:30 a.m.
HopMonk Tavern, 691 Broadway Sonoma, 935-9100
Tonight, April 22: Sean Carscadden. 5 p.m. Tommy Thomsen. 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 23: Matt Bolton. 1 p.m. The Moseyboys. 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 24: Dawn Angelosante and Tony Gibson. 1 p.m.
Murphy’s Irish Pub, 464 First St. E. Sonoma, 935-0660
Tonight, April 22: Tonewoods. 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 23: An American Forrest. 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 24: Tim O’Neil Band. 7 p.m.
Olde Sonoma Public House, 18615 Sonoma Hwy. Boyes Hot Springs, 938-7587
Saturday, April 23: Karaoke. 7:30 p.m.
Plaza Bistro, 420 First St E. Sonoma, 996-4466
Tonight, April 22: Grant Levin and Chris Amberger Duo. 7 p.m.
Rossi’s 1906 Dancehall, 401 Grove St. El Verano, 343-0044
Tonight, April 22: Tri-Tip Trio. 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 23: Lee Presson and the Nails. 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 24: Eagles of Newtown. 5 p.m. Blues Jam. 9:30 p.m.
Schellville Grill, 22900 Broadway, Sonoma, 996-5151
Saturday, April 23: Butch Engle and Styx. 12:30 p.m.
Sebastiani Winery and Vineyards, 389 Fourth St. E. Sonoma, 933-3230
Tonight, April 22: Stax City. 6 p.m.
Sonoma Speakeasy and American Music Hall, 452 First St. E. ste. G. Sonoma, 996-1364
Tonight, April 22: Left Coast Syncopaters. 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 23: Full Circle. 5 p.m. Iko Ya Ya. 8 p.m.
Sonoma Valley Regional Library, 755 W. Napa St. Sonoma, 996-5217
Saturday, April 22: Duo Giuliani. 2 p.m.
Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building, 126 First St. W. Sonoma, 938-4105
Bernie, Blues and Barbecue – Bernie Sanders Fundraiser
Sunday, April 24:Junior Boogie Band, Tommy Thomsen and Friends, Barry “The Fish” Melton. 2 to 8 p.m.
If your gig isn’t in my column, you didn’t tell me about it.