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royalsdad

It was just 18 days after my third birthday the last time the Kansas City Royals played in a postseason game. I have no memories of Don Denkinger or Dane Iorg or “No outs to go!”

I’m not alone in this. Over the last week I’ve read countless this-is-how-young-I-was-the-last-time pieces. For anyone my age (nearly 32 … cripes) or younger, all we’ve known of Kansas City baseball is misery. One winning season in 17 years. Four 100-loss seasons in five years. The time Ken Harvey was hit in the back with a cutoff throw and flailed to the ground like he’d just been picked off by a sniper. The year Mark Redman (with an ERA North of 5.00) was our city’s lone representative in the All Star Game. The departures of Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye and Carlos Beltran.

But tonight, none of that matters. There is one Major League Baseball game happening tonight and it’s being played at Kauffman Stadium.

I’d never be able to count the number of games I listened to on the radio. Meaningless games in the middle of lost seasons. Games where the cicadas in the background nearly drowned out the sound of the dwindling Kauffman crowds as summer pushed its way into another depressing August. Games that were highlighted by Hall of Fame broadcaster Denny Mathews’ dry and blunt sense of humor, his spelling of opposing players’ last names (M-I-E-N-T-K-I-E-W-I-C-Z) and his faithful reading of those Royals on the Radio sponsors who were surely questioning their fiscal investment with the franchise (“The first pitch brought  to you by The Parking Spot at KCI … Easy to spot, easy to park, the Parking Spot at KCI”).

But I couldn’t stop pulling for the Royals. Maybe it’s part of me being loyal to a fault. Maybe it’s a baseball thing. Either way, my radio stayed tuned to 860 AM The Kow until Denny would call the final out of the final game of the season and the totals were read for one last time before putting another losing campaign to bed.

I always wondered what it would be like to root for a winning team. What would it feel like to see the Royals finish with a winning record? What would it feel like to have people see my broken-in KC hat and not offer words of condolence? What would it feel like to see my team, dare I dream, in the playoffs?

Tonight, I find out.

I’ll be fortunate enough to be inside Kauffman Stadium when James Shields throws the first pitch of the 2014 MLB postseason. True, I will be sitting next to an Oakland fan, but she’s gorgeous and she agreed to marry me, so I can live with it.

But if I wasn’t at the game, I would be tempted to drive two hours south, to the dirt roads of rural Cherokee County, and sit on the back deck of my parents’ home, which is empty and waiting on a new buyer. I would turn on the radio and turn the dial until I heard Denny’s voice.

And this time, there would be no cicadas.

I actually made it longer than I thought I would updating this thing daily. Then the wheels fell off. Good thing no one is actually counting on me.

We march on, with a week’s worth of music … bands and people that I like, but not enough for me to devote an actual full post to …

Day 16, Wednesday, March 23

Artist: Shurman

Song: I’m Not Crazy

 

Day 17, Thursday, March 24

Artist: Charlie Robison

Song: Down Again

 

Day 18, Friday, March 25 (let’s go wayyyyy back)

Artist: Steve Earle

Song: Copperhead Road

 

Day 19, Saturday, March 26

Artist: Gary Louris (also a founding member of influential Alt-Country band The Jayhawks)

Song: Omaha Nights

 

Day 20, Sunday, March 27

Artist: Wilco

Song: California (lyrics by Woodie Guthrie)

 

Day 21, Monday, March 28

Artist: Micky & The Motorcars

Song: Carolina Morning

Day 22, Tuesday, March 29

Artist: Shooter Jennings

Song: This Ol’ Wheel

 

So I’ve missed a few days. I have an excuse of every day, I swear.

Too lazy on Saturday, too busy on Sunday and too sick on Monday. See? I can justify anything.

Nevertheless, I know nobody actually missed my posts. You’ve likely already become annoyed by them. But I ain’t no quitter.

On we go! How about a crap-load of music tonight?

Day 12, Saturday, March 19

Artist: Whiskeytown (aka Ryan Adams before he went out on his own)

Song: 16 Days

 

Day 13, Sunday, March 20

Artist: The Band

Song: The Weight

 

Day 14, Monday, March 21

Artist: John Hiatt

Song: Master of Disaster

 

Day 15, Tuesday, March 22

Artist: Alejandro Escovedo

Song: Castanets

Day 11, Friday, March 18

The English folk rock band Mumford & Sons doesn’t need much background. They’re quickly opening eyes in the U.S.

So I won’t yap. I’ll just post the music. Deal? Deal.

Artist: Mumford & Sons

Song: The Cave

Day 10, Thursday, March 17

I prefer live performances, but I couldn’t find a video of this song that didn’t have distorted sound or screaming girls covering up the music. Oh well … Happy St. Patty’s Day.

Artist: Reckless Kelly

Song: Seven Nights in Eire

Day 8, Wednesday, March 16

Today’s ditty is a perfect example of the sanctity — for lack of a better term — of a writer’s work.

If you’ve heard the song ‘Jolene’ (no, not the Dolly Parton song), you’ve probably heard the version that Zac Brown Band recorded on their 2008 album The Foundation. The original version, by Ray LaMontagne, isn’t as well known.

ZBB is an extremely talented group of musicians and song writers. They produce great music, including the cover of ‘Jolene’.  And, I have nothing against covers. All artists do them. Musicians are inspired by the work of other musicians and they often pay respect to their inspirations by playing their songs.

That said, there’s no substitute for hearing a song performed by the person who gave it life. The ZBB did a tremendous job on ‘Jolene’. But there’s just not quite the same amount of soul present as when it’s performed by LaMontagne.

And that’s the biggest problem I have with today’s pre-packaged, market-researched music (I’m looking at you, Nashville). Today’s big country stars are performers. They’re unbelievably talented singers performing, mostly, songs that came from someone else’s heart, someone else’s experiences. Look up Jeffrey Steele sometime. He’s the guy behind many of Rascall Flatts’ hits.  (edit: ah, heck, I’ll just post a video of him, too).

When Steele sings ‘What Hurts the Most’, you actually get a little sense of passion. When the Flatts boys perform it, you just get three guys in $100 jeans trying to look pretty.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel sorry for these faceless song writers. They’re getting some mighty fine royalty checks when Nashville’s big dogs sell records with their songs on them. It’s just nice to see the music in its purest form sometimes. Ya dig?

Artist: Ray LaMontagne

Song: Jolene

Artist: Jeffrey Steele

Song: What Hurts the Most

 

Day 7, Tuesday, March 15

No incessant blabbing today. Just music … from the pride of Festus, Missourah: the Bottle Rockets.

Artist: Bottle Rockets

Song: Welfare Music