As a general rule I don’t blog about music in this space, because even though entertainment and sports have somewhat cross-pollinated for decades — from Marilyn Monroe meets Joe DiMaggio, to Madonna meets A-Rod, to, well, Kate Hudson meets A-Rod — I figure I’d start getting emails like, “Schultz! What does this have to do with the Auburn game! And by the way, your picks stink!”
But hang with me here — particularly you baseball fans.
I went to high school with a fellow named Steve Wynn, whom you may have heard of. Steve and I were both sports writers for the almost-Pulitzer Prize-winning University High “Warrior” in Los Angeles. At some point, he determined he had a better future in music than newspapers. When he performed on the David Letterman Show last year (see video below), I think that confirmed he had made the right decision.
Steve started a ground-breaking band called the “Dream Syndicate” back in the 1980s, had a successful solo career and last year launched, “The Baseball Project,” with Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, R.E.M., Minus 5), Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Linda Pitmon (Miracle 3, Zu Zu’s Petals). Their CD, “Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails,” is a collection of songs about baseball, but not in the “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” or “Talking Baseball” sense (mercifully).
They’re great songs, rock and ballads, with rich lyrics that tell stories about Jackie Robinson (”Jackie’s Lament”), Harvey Haddix (song of the same name for the man who threw a 12-inning perfect game but isn’t credited with it), Satchel Paige (”Satchel Paige Said”) and Curt Flood (”Gratitude,” a great gritty tribute for the man who paved the way for free agency). The CD is well worth the buy. The man is still producing great music, and the only thing that upsets me is that, after all this time, he has kept not only his voice but his hairline, which puts him ahead of me.
When “The Baseball Project” first came together, I wrote a piece for the AJC that you can find linked here. Steve laughed at the irony of gaining so much recognition for writing songs about baseball saying, “It’s pretty funny. I’ve been making records for 25 years. But it took me going back to sports writing to get on the Letterman Show.”
There’s a longer piece on Steve and our high school days that I wrote for Stomp and Stammer magazine, which is linked here. Hope you enjoy it. One of my favorites comments was about the apparent large number of baseball fans in the rock music scene. “When this [Baseball Project] record came out, I realized how many of us were out there,” Steve said. “The indie rock scene and baseball especially seem to go together. I was trying to think why that is. I guess because it’s more of the cerebral sport, the geek sport. Baseball fans are like record collectors. They know every batting average for the Detroit Tigers in 1971, just like they know all of the B-sides.”
The only thing better than this CD is hearing Wynn live. But you don’t have to take my word for it. His 30-city tour comes to town this weekend. The Baseball Project will be playing Sunday night at The Earl in Atlanta and Monday night at 40 Watt in Athens. I plan on hitting both shows. I believe David O’Brien, our Braves writer and resident music geek, also will be at the Athens show. Come find me and say hello.
Until then, enjoy listening to, “Past Time,” performed last summer on Letterman.