10 Songs I wish they'd play at Great American Ballpark

One of the more pointless argument cul-de-sacs I've been sucked into repeatedly is some variation on the theme of "I Can't Believe You Don't Like What I Like."  What follows is a list of songs that I like - but it's not a prescription - just some tracks I think could enhance the fan experience at Reds home games. Music taste is highly subjective and, consequently, the task of playing music to please a broad audience at a sporting event tends to be restrictive. Still, there's no reason the ballpark play list has to shrink down to that of a Top 40 station nor keeping recycling the Jock Jams I used to Rollerblade to in junior high.

"The Cincinnati Kid" - Ray Charles

Seems like it's difficult to get anyone to sing about Cincinnati without being couched in irony or some fictional context. But I'll take Ray Charles singing about a devil-may-care Steve McQueen character fictionally from the Queen City. This song - and its title character - is a refreshing counterpoint to the Kids in the Hall sketch of the same name, in which the Cincinnati Kid is a sniveling doofus. The irony, of course, is that the current Cincinnati Kid is from Toronto, but maybe this song will plant a subliminal message that being the CK is a calling for life.

He came with the name Cincinnati
A kid with no ace in the hole
On a hot poker pot, Cincinnati
Had staked his heart and soul

Usage: Pre-game pump up, Barry Larkin appearances, Votto walk-ups

"Lights of Cincinnati" - Scott Walker

Scott Walker, who was big in England after pulling a reverse British invasion during the 60s, was originally from Hamilton, OH. "Lights of Cincinnati" may be a  lesser work - and pretty schmaltzy at that - but it's also an affecting ballad about the pull of the home place. In this case, it's Cincinnati that exerts the centrifugal force.

I could build myself a new life
And make it on my own,
But the lights of Cincinnati
Will keep calling me back home.

Usage: Postgame exit music, possibly after a loss or on the last day of a homestand before a "westbound" roadtrip

'WKRP in Cincinnati' Theme

It may be retro camp, but it's our retro camp. In the absence of Cincinnati answer to "I Left my Heart in San Francisco," I'll settle for jaunty little theme from a pretty excellent late-70s sitcom.

Baby, if you've ever wondered,
Wondered whatever became of me,
I'm living on the air in Cincinnati,
Cincinnati, WKRP.

Usage: Between innings, calls to the bullpen

"Pete Rose Way" - The Baseball Project

The Baseball Project is a super-group comprised of '90s modern rockers, including REM's Peter Buck. This song made its public debut at the Southgate House recently. Though already out of date in that it mentions Aaron Harang in its litany of current players, it has few peers among listenable rock songs expressly about the Cincinnati Reds. The REM tie has me hoping that release of an entire album of Reds songs, entitled Vottomatic for the People, is a little bit closer to being realized.

Walk through Hell in a Gasoline Suit
If there's one more game to play
Driving down this boulevard they call the Pete Rose Way

Usage: Pete Rose appearances, BRM reunions, After announcements about directions to and from the stadium

"Telstar" - The Tornados

There's no Cincinnati or Reds player tie-in, I just like this song. It's a fun 60s Space Age instrumental, an element sorely missing from most ballparks' playlists.

Usage: After something wacky, like if Johnny Cueto hits a home-run or Dusty Baker does something

"La Vie en Rose" - Louis Armstrong

It'd be a cheap pun, but it's also a transcendent Satchmo interpretation of a timeless jazz standard. I'm not the first to say that it's shame there isn't more jazz in modern baseball, given their parallel histories in American life, which extend well beyond the fact that Ken Burns made a documentary about both. There should probably be a more swinging song somewhere on this list, but my knowledge of big band doesn't go much further than "In the Mood" (seem to remember hearing it all the ballpark at some point).

Usage: Post-game (victories)

"Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

I'm sure there's probably some Motown in the mix at GABP, but there could always be more. Few songs better capture the feeling of being reunited with someone (or something) that you love.

Usage: Opening Day, opening games of homestands

Night Society - Silver Jews

No nonsense, pentatonic pump-up rock.

Usage: Rallies, calls to the bullpen

"Heaven's on Fire" - The Radio Dept.

Not every carefree musical interlude has to sound like "Walking on Sunshine." I hold out little hope for this one getting in the rotation:

"People see rock and roll as, as youth culture, and when youth culture becomes monopolized by big business, what are the youth to do? Do you, do you have any idea?

I think we should destroy the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture."

Usage: Kid Glove, Straight A ticket day.

"Candela" - Buena Vista Social Club

I don't assume that Aroldis Chapman is into Buena Vista Social club just because he's Cuban. I only float the idea that it would be nice to hear some Cuban music at games, especially with three other Cuban-born players coming up in the system. This seems like a decent place to start, especially given that the chorus of the song is pretty perfect for the bullpen's 105-mph, newly-minted Fireman:

Fire!
Fire!
I'm burning up

Usage: Calls to the 'pen, any other time

~

Not recommended:

"Reds Hot" - The 1990 Cincinnati Reds - I was forced to agree with one of the YouTube commenters: this is homo. Homogeneous, that is. Bogus beats and flow, no science dropped whatsoever. As far as pun-titled, Major League Baseball team ensemble rapping goes, it's just not in the same league as "Get Metsmerized."

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