With the Beale Street Music Festival taking shape this week at Tom Lee Park, I found myself considering the marriage between music and sports. From "One Shining Moment" at the Final Four to Hank Williams Jr. on Monday Night Football, it's hard to love one without some affection (if only latent) for the other. So what if we took some of the biggest hits by some of this weekend's biggest music stars, and dedicated them to a member (or members) of the sports world? It might sound something like this.
"I Feel Good" by James Brown, dedicated to DeAngelo Williams. And you'd feel good, too, if you'd just been picked by the Carolina Panthers with the 27th selection in the NFL draft. Here's a case where good things happen to good people. Having become only the fourth player in college football history to rush for 6,000 yards, all the while leading the University of Memphis to three straight bowl appearances, Williams stuck around to graduate when the cash registers started ringing in his ears more than a year ago. And you just might have to find the Godfather of Soul to match the fancy footwork Williams will display on Sunday afternoons this fall.
"The Thrill is Gone" by B.B. King, dedicated -- as a question -- to Memphis Grizzlies fans. Despite the home team playing in a swanky new arena and marching toward a third straight postseason appearance, Memphis ranked near the bottom of the NBA in attendance. With ticket prices commensurate with those in other pro basketball cities, you start wondering how ready for prime time Bluff City hoop fans really are. As for those clamoring for the acquisition of a "superstar" to boost interest, consider that Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Tracy McGrady are sitting home watching the likes of Pau Gasol and Shane Battier in this year's playoffs.
"Breathless" by Jerry Lee Lewis, dedicated to Albert Pujols. Okay, okay, so the Killer was singing about carnal desire. Let's tame our metaphorical interpretation, just long enough to allow a few of the mighty Pujols' immaculate swings to accompany the soundtrack. In measuring the first five years of Pujols' career (over which he averaged .332, with 40 home runs, 124 RBIs, and 126 runs), there are only two baseball immortals who can qualify for comparison: Joe DiMaggio (.343, 34, 138, 123) and Ted Williams (.353, 33,, 128, 126). When Pujols hit a major-league record 14 home runs in April, Cardinal Nation had yet another chapter in the ever-growing volume of heroics by the team's modern-day Musial.
"Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams, dedicated to the 1969 New York Mets. Ahh, the Miracle Mets. No artificially inflated muscle on this team for the ages. This may be the last team in baseball history that belongs in the "fable" category. This was pre-Watergate, remember, when media was three network channels and your daily newspaper (two if you were lucky enough to live in a big city). Tommie Agee, Ron Swoboda, and the immortal Donn Clendenon. The Amazin's beat a mighty Baltimore Orioles club (109 wins) that featured Hall of Famers Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, and Frank Robinson. And the Mets won with the same strength that has carried almost every World Series champ: pitching. A 22-year-old Nolan Ryan couldn't crack the starting rotation for this team. Gotta love a club led by a guy remembered as Tom Terrific.
"I Want a New Drug" by Huey Lewis & the News, dedicated to Barry Bonds. I know, I know. This was too easy. But with Mr. Lewis wearing his loyalty to the San Francisco Giants on his sleeve (his band's from Frisco), the match is too perfect to pass up. What kind of drug might the aspiring Home Run King turn to, what with the 'roid watchdogs on his tail? I'd suggest some old-fashioned Tylenol, for all the headaches he must endure, what with the ceaseless booing, insulting signage, and constant questioning of his credentials as an heir to Ruth and Aaron. But something tells me Bonds' head is the last body part he'll be concerned about 10 years from now.