Inappropriate Walk Up Music 2011: Brian Wilson

Ron Santo and the Black Cat at SheaTwo years ago, I did a series in the month leading up to Opening Day in which I picked songs that were thoroughly unsuited to be used as Walk Up Music. Walk Up Music are the tunes handpicked by baseball players to be played as they stroll to the plate. In MLB, batters typically pick songs that are intimidating, conveying an atmosphere of bad-assery just waiting to explode. I set out to find songs that were thoroughly unsuited for this purpose. The songs I picked were not necessarily bad. I just couldn’t imagine any baseball player staring out at the mound, knocking the dirt out of his spikes, as these songs blared through the PA.

Here’s a real life example: During the 2000 season, Robin Ventura apparently REALLY got into Bob Dylan. I have audio and video from the playoffs that year in which you can see/hear him striding to the plate along to “Positively 4th Street” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” Classics? I’d say so, and I’m not even a Dylan fan. Appropriate walk up music? Absolutely not.

With Opening Day looming once again, I’ve decided to do this series once again, because there’s no shortage of inappropriate walk up music out there. One difference: back in 2009, I picked three songs a day, but this time I’m limiting myself to one a day, because I have only so many hours in the day, and am lazy.

Our first entry is a tune I found online many years ago, from a Brian Wilson bootleg called Adult Child. It dates from around 1976/1977, roughly at the same time he briefly returned to The Beach Boys, and as such the album has a few appearances from bandmates like Mike Love. It was also recorded at a time when Wilson’s sanity was not at a high watermark. During this period, he liked to compose songs with the classic Beach Boys sound, but which had lyrics that were intensely simple and literal, even by his standards. Next to these tunes, Jonathan Richman’s lyrics sound like Cole Porter’s.

I only have one song from this ancient download: “It’s Trying to Say (Baseball).” It starts out with some sentiments about how Brian loves simple folk and their simple ways. More than a little condescending, but very Wilsonian. You’ll notice his voice is not in the greatest shape, a little scratchy. But that’s not the weirdest part of this song, not by a long shot.

After the first verse, the song degenerates into lyrics about baseball, for some reason, which sound like they were taken straight from marketing copy intended for season ticket holders. Upgrade now! Great seats still available! The lyrics don’t rhyme for the most part, and are delivered in a choppy style that suggests Brian was repeating something he just heard on TV. Take away the four part harmonies and instrumentation, and you could imagine Wesley Willis singing it.

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