Tag Archives: inappropriate walk up music

Inappropriate Walk Up Music: The Pogues

For an intro to this series, click here. For the original series way back in 2009, click here.

It is only fair and just that we mention The Pogues on this most Irish of days. Now, most Pogues songs are inappropriate for one reason or another. But I wanted to mention one that is currently being used in an inappropriate sports context: the title track from If I Should Fall From the Grace of God.

You may have heard this tune in a Suburu ad featuring a busy mom and her brood of hockey playing young’uns, all of whom are very ginger-y. So the choice of song vaguely makes sense–as long as you’re ignorant of the lyrics, which concern completely bottoming out and dying in the gutter. That’s a great minivan song, Madison Ave!

Inappropriate Walk Up Music: Frank Carson

For an intro to this series, click here. For the original series way back in 2009, click here.

Earlier this week, Charlie Brooker (hilariously acidic skewerer of British media) put up a tweet that said, “Possibly the most powerfully seductive record of all time.” The link led to this bizarre ditty from Northern Irish comedian/showman Frank Carson. I think you’ll agree it is quite sexy. What woman could resist golden pipes like this?

The mere mental image of a batter striding to plate as Carson sang IP, DIP, CHIPPERDY DIP makes me crack up. Bless you, Mr. Brooker.

Inappropriate Walk Up Music: Uncle Meat

For an intro to this series, click here. For the original series way back in 2009, click here.

There are no casual Frank Zappa fans. You don’t merely like his music; it becomes a focal point of your existence. This is due partially to the fact that he worked on developing a cult among his fanbase almost from the beginning of his career, and also because the sheer volume of stuff he put out is so staggering. It’s a devotion tailor-made for obsessives, like myself.

In high school, I had dual musical allegiances. On the one hand, straight up punk rock. On the other, modern classical stuff like Igor Stravinsky and Charles Ives and jazz like Charles Mingus and Miles Davis. I’m not sure how this happened, exactly, but here we are. Frank Zappa satisfied both sides of my musical brain at once. It had rock elements, but also had the complicated instrumentation and chops I liked from classical and jazz. It also had plenty of satirical and transgressive elements to it (sex, poop) that were exciting to High School Me.

The problem with liking Zappa is that he pushes all your other likes out to the margins. He had a concept called Conceptual Continuity, which said that everything he ever did was interrelated. The only way to truly understand it all was to listen to everything–including every live show you could get your hands on. That’s why I have not only 40-something legitimately released albums of his, but twice as many boots I downloaded in the early, bountiful days of torrenting. The time and scrutiny required to listen to all of this stuff leaves you no inclination to consume anything else.

I’d consider myself a lapsed Zappa fan at this point in my life, because I feel like I’ve pulled out as much as I can from his oeuvre. There’s also elements to some songs that are way too close to misogyny for me to excuse or dismiss. However, I still listen to the occasional track or old show. I also stand by certain incarnations of his bands, like the Roxy and Elsewhere lineup, which was pretty funky and fun (plus it had lots of marimba, which always pleases me). But my favorite remains the original Mothers, who were unlike anything assembled before or since.

Zappa basically took this band that used to play R & B and blues and got them to play rockified versions of Edgar Varese and Karlheinz Stockhausen compositions. And when they felt like it, they could also rock the fuck out. You’ll see examples of both in this video from a performance on the BBC from 1968.

The song in that video, “King Kong,” was a heavy duty workout that took up all of side 4 of Uncle Meat, the final proper album by the original Mothers lineup. (There were a few others featuring material they’d recorded, of course, since Zappa released virtually everything he ever did. This was the last one recorded as a for-real album.) I’m not the full time Zappa fan I once was, but I still stand by this as a masterpiece. There’s virtually no vocals on the entire album, and it has this strange, stilted baroque quality to it. Much of it was assembled using insane amounts of overdubbing all done on four tracks (the only kind of recorder then available) and edited with razor blades, a small engineering miracle.

The Uncle Meat liner notes came with sheet music for both “King Kong” and the title track, which I was obsessed with for a while. The notation informed me that the song’s chord structure was composed almost entirely of suspended 4ths. If that means nothing to you, just know that in traditional Western music, a fourth interval (i.e., a difference between a root and a harmonic of four full notes) sounds kind of “Eastern” or “Chinese.” This budget music theory lesson has been brought to you by a class I took junior year of high school.

Using the tiny transcription in the CD booklet, I tried to play “Uncle Meat” on the beatup piano in our basement (acquired for the cost of renting a truck when family friends gave it away), but I couldn’t play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” with two hands, let alone Frank Zappa. Oh well.

While this is completely inappropriate for use as walk up music, any player who dared do so would earn my eternal love. Yes, even if it was a Marlin.

Inappropriate Walk Up Music: “Lazy Mary”

For an intro to this series, click here. For the original series way back in 2009, click here.

Here’s an example of ballpark music that’s inappropriate even in the context in which it is used. “Lazy Mary,” a song made famous by professional stereotype Lou Monte (also responsible for “Dominic the Donkey”) is played right after “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at CitiField. It is as old timey Italian as a mustachioed pizza chef, and most of the verses are actually sung in “the Eye-talian language” (Lou’s pronunciation, not mine). My guess as to why it became a staple at Shea is because of the large Italian population in Queens when the team was first established, particularly in nearby Corona, and therefore among the Mets’ fanbase.

“Lazy Mary” is a bouncy, goofy tarantella, the kind of song that inspires clapping along, so it makes sense musically as a stadium song. But the lyrics are kind of filthy. Here’s the section of the song that’s sung in English:

Lazy Mary you better get up
She answered back I am not able
Lazy Mary you better get up
We need the sheets for the table
Lazy Mary you smoke in bed
There’s only one man you should marry
My advice to you would be
Is to pay attention to me
You’d better marry a fireman
He’ll come and go, go and come…

Followed by some suggestions in Italian about what else this fireman will do (think hose metaphors). Shame on you, Lou Monte! There are kids at this ballpark!

Here’s the song in action during the 7th inning stretch at the last game ever played at Shea. If you look hard, you can see me in the mezzanine in this video.*

And while we’re on the subject of inappropriate, here’s a screen cap of the first video suggestion on the same page as that video. What the holy super-fuck, YouTube?!

* No you can’t.

Inappropriate Walk Up Music: “Joy of Cola”

For an intro to this series, click here. For the original series way back in 2009, click here.

In the last two years, I’ve done two comprehensive retrospectives on Mets seasons: The 1999 Project and In the Year 2000. Both have required me to watch and listen to as many old games as I can get my hands on. While it can be uplifting to relive old vicarious glories, there is an odd danger in doing this: Getting old commercial jingles stuck in your head. The primary example is the old Pepsi tune “Joy of Cola.”

This is demonstrative of how quickly an ad campaign can explode, and how quickly it can recede. I would guess that this song has not been heard by anyone other than myself in a good eight years. But if you were alive in the late 1990s/early 2000s, this jingle was completely inescapable. I believe it was engineered in a secret CIA black ops lab where audiologists concoct deadly ear-worms. The song’s refrain–bup bup bup-bup baaaaah–has the perfect blend of unfuriatingly annoying and unshakable.

In TV spots, the jingle was accompanied by the adorable moppet Hallie Kate Eisenberg. She would often lip sync the jingle and dialogue recorded by famous folks like Aretha Franklin. Why was this so popular? That’s a very good question!

Like any corporation would, once Pepsi found out a formula for success–catchy song + cute little girl–they ran it into the ground. There was a version with the girl as a DJ, mouthing a monologue from Isaac Hayes. (Not creepy at all!) Another ad showed her in an Italian restaurant talking like Marlon Brando as The Godfather while dozens of unsavory stereotypes were celebrated.

For pure hateability, however, none was worse than the ad featuring KISS. I certainly hope someone was prosecuted for child abuse for putting this poor kid in dumb makeup and, even worse, making her stand near Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. I’d say this is the worst thing KISS ever did, but their list of crimes is long and varied.

Inappropriate Walk Up Music: “Overkill”

For an intro to this series, click here. For the original series way back in 2009, click here.

Not too long ago, I had the Men at Work song “Overkill” stuck in my head for a while. And when I say “a while,” I mean a month. There are two reasons why this was especially infuriating:

  1. It wasn’t intermittently stuck in my head, as songs often are. I heard this song in my mind almost constantly.
  2. I hadn’t actually heard this song in many, many years. So at first I didn’t even have the whole song stuck in my head. Just the one part where Colin Hay sings Day after day, it reappears, followed by the sax imitating the line.

My theory is, I’d heard this song at a friend’s house while watching MTV when I was young (I was cable-less as a kid), and it lay in wait ever since then, like a latent virus staying dormant for decades. What could have triggered it back to life? I can’t say. Does it even matter when the suffering sets in? Not that it’s a bad song, because it’s not, really. But anything is horrible if it’s inescapable.

It had been so long since I’d heard this song anywhere other than my brain that at first, I didn’t even know the song title or who sang it. I had to google random lines just find out this piece of vital information. Once I found out the responsible artists, I listened to it in full, hoping that would dislodge it from my synapses.

Big mistake. That just made it stronger and more virulent. It fed upon my brain matter and grew larger and larger, threatening to consume my very sanity.

And then one day, it left. I think it did as much damage as it could and crawled out of my ear as I slept to plague some other unsuspecting soul. I do not wish such a fate on anyone. So while this song is inappropriate as walk up music, it is particularly inappropriate to me, as I live in constant fear that it may return to haunt me again.

On a related note: Not long after my harrowing ordeal, Twitterer extraordinaire @trumpetcake–a master of the twitpic–posted a screencap of the YouTube comments for this video, with the caption “No one’s got any fucking sympathy anymore.”* As you can see, there’s a big drop-off in the content and tone from comment #1 to comment #2.

* Paraphrasing from memory. My efforts to find his original post proved pointless because searching for anything in Twitter older than yesterday is a baffling ordeal.

Inappropriate Walk Up Music: Windigo

For an intro to this series, click here. For the original series way back in 2009, click here.

My post yesterday, which referenced a collegiate memory, prompted another, which I have not ever written about on this site, a fact I find very difficult to believe. Because it is legend among me and a small group of friends.

My junior year of college, I lived in a five-guy suite. This was definitely my favoritest time at college, since me and my roommates would often engage in goofy shenanigans and goings-on. One of my roommates this year worked at the radio station and would often book bands to play there. Not necessarily bands he dug, but work is work, and experience is experience. As such, he came home with armloads of demo CDs he had no intention of ever listening to, nor did the rest of us.

However, for reasons that have been lost to the mists of time, one day we decided to pop one of these CDs in the stereo. It was by a band called Windigo. The first track was called “C and M (Confident and Militant).” It started with the lead “singer” intoning this manifesto, spoken:

I’m confident
I’m militant
I’m a living, breathing accident.

He then began rapping, over no music, the following lyrics:

Ain’t never ever been to South Central
But the pain in my brain still makes me go mental!

Followed by some lyrics about “the power of one,” after which he literally said BREAK-DOWN! And the music kicked in. Rap-rock was still in its infancy as a genre at the time, so none of us were really prepared for what we were hearing. It sounded like outtakes from a session for background music from a Navy commercial.

Even if the style was new to us, we did know funny when we heard it, and this was hilarious. We rewound the BREAK-DOWN! part and replayed it a good 10 times before proceeding. The rest of the song was basically an extended jam of Nutritional Supplement Rock, with the repeated refrain I’M CONFIDENT! I’M MILITANT!

We became obsessed with this song, to the point where we had Windigo Parties. We’d put on “C and M” to get psyched up to go out, or when we woke up in the morning, or just on a lazy afternoon. But we wouldn’t just listen to it. We’d do a full-on hardcore version of a Soul Train line dance, where we’d all take turns doing ridiculous slamdance-type moves, or whatever dumb gyrations came to mind.

Me, I used to alternate between The Lawnmower and The Charleston. There was also a move we all did that had no real name. Let’s call it The Orb. You pretended to roll/shine an imaginary glowing sphere in your hands, then pass it along to someone else. Why? Why not?

Did I mention that we would do this with girls in our suite? What’s more amazing is that guys whose idea of good time was having Windigo Parties would ever have girls in their suite. I didn’t say they were there for long, just that they entered the premises at some point.

Sadly, that demo CD was lost in the shuffle and mishegoss of college life. Amazingly, considering the role it played in our lives, no one seems to know what happened to it. Windigo put out a full length in 1998 that did NOT include “C and M.” And since that demo predated the explosion of online file sharing, all of my efforts to find it online have been fruitless.

If you happen to have access to a copy of this song, you do not know what I would pay to own it. No price is too high. I may even regale you with my rendition of The Orb.

Inappropriate Walk Up Music: “Goodbye Cruel World”

For an intro to this series, click here. For the original series way back in 2009, click here.

One of my collegiate roommates had had an extensive music collection. Most of it fell under the heading of punk, with a particular fondness for Johnny Thunders live bootlegs where poor Johnny was barely coherent. (I remember one that started out with him announcing, in his intensely Elmhurstian accent, “This song goes out ta Yassah Arafat. I heah he’s movin ta Queens.”) But he also had a weakness for doo wop of the late 1950s/early 1960s, the more New York-y the better (think Dion).

In keeping with this latter category, he had a few Billboard compilations from that era. Once, he burst into my room and demanded I listen to a song from the 1961 collection because it was so singularly bizarre: “Goodbye Cruel World” by James Darren.

Mr. Darren was best known as an actor, most notably as Moondoggie in the Gidget movies. He also had a recurring gig on T.J. Hooker. If you’re a nerd of more recent vintage, you may recall him as the holographic crooner Vic Fontaine on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. But he enjoyed a singing career in the early 1960s, and “Goodbye Cruel World” was his biggest hit, charting at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1961.

The pre-Beatles pop music landscape was really weird. If you weren’t aware of that fact before, you will be now. “Goodbye Cruel World” is a song in which the protagonist uses the titular phrase to signify that he’s “off to join the circus” to be “a broken-hearted clown.”

Let’s review: A song named after a saying that usually means someone is going to kill themselves, weirdly censored to mean the singer is merely becoming a carny, was the third biggest hit in 1961.

The circus milieu of this composition was not subtle, either. The song has blaring carnival horns, booming drums, and calliopes. It’s like “What’s New Pussycat,” only a thousand times less swinging. And I know that if I ever saw a batter come up to the plate to it, I would lose my mind.

Inappropriate Walk Up Music: Sanford and Son Theme Song

For an intro to this series, click here. For the original series way back in 2009, click here.

Cliff FloydThis is an example from a real major league batter from a few years ago. When Cliff Floyd first came to the Mets, he would come to bat to hip-hop or R&B, usually pretty standard stuff. But at some point in the 2006 season, he began strolling up from the on deck circle to the theme song from Sanford and Son. (A post from Paul Lukas at Uni Watch from that season corroborates my memory.)

The first time I heard it, I thought it was a mistake, like the Shea Stadium A/V guy hit the wrong cue. That is not a song that signifies a slugger is approaching the plate. It should be played when the opposing team calls a mound conference or boots a grounder.

But no, this was not a mistake. Floyd had quite the sense of humor, even about himself, which is rare for a pro athlete. I remember that when the Sanford theme first became his walk up music, he said it was a reference to his own chronic ankle woes. I couldn’t find any reference to that from 2006, but apparently the joke went back a few years. According to this Cliff-centric web site, way back in 2003 he told MLB.com:

“You see me now,” Floyd said. “I’m like ‘Sanford and Son.’ I can’t run. I’m walking around here like Grady.”

Bless you, Cliff Floyd, one of the few bright spots of the Art Howe years.

Inappropriate Walk Up Music: Neil Diamond

For an intro to this series, click here. For the original series way back in 2009, click here.

Neil Diamond is a veritable fount of inappropriate. His unique combination of old-timey showmanship, bombast, and ego is rivaled by few other performers. Witness “Cherry Cherry Christmas,” a Yuletide tune he composed that wishes happy holidays to one and all by namechecking the titles of his own songs. That takes some seriously chrome-plated, sequined balls.

Hot August NightThere’s virtually no Neil Diamond song that wouldn’t be inappropriate for the purposes of walk up music. (How “Sweet Caroline” has become a ballpark sing-along staple, most notably at Fenway, is a mystery to me.) But if I had to pick one–and by the dictates of this series, I do–I’d have to opt for “Porcupine Pie.” This somewhat obscure track, from his 1972 live double-album Hot August Night, is an insanely ridiculous song sung with the utmost sincerity and seriousness. It takes a very special sort of person to play this song in front of an audience and not crack a smile. And to also use the image seen here for the cover of your album.

I would have been blissfully ignorant of this masterpiece were it not for The Best Show on WFMU. Years ago, host Tom Scharpling searched for the worst song ever made. The first candidate was “The Loadout” by Jackson Browne, a truly awful, thoroughly cynical song. (“Here’s a tune about how much we love you slobs in the audience!”) But two years later, “Porcupine Pie” was put forward as far worse, and I can’t disagree. I cede to Tom’s analysis at this time, from the episode from June 25, 2006, as it says far more than I can (and also includes a critique of a song that’s almost as weird, “Done Too Soon”).

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