Take It Out Of The Ball Game.

When I walked into Busch Stadium, the red-brick, grass carpeted fortress of the St. Louis Cardinals, I was bombarded with a fury of sights, sounds, and smells. The loud heckling voices of overweight vendors saturated the cavern-like innards of the arena, as did the pungent aromas of overly plump hotdogs and spilled beer. As the sensual frenzy wages on throughout the atmosphere, one sound vaults itself over the lager-stained drone, and through the building’s archways. As I venture toward the field, the sound reveals itself to be the opening guitar aria to the Guns N Roses’ epic hit, “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”

It is at this point that I reflected and realized that I have never been to a baseball game where the GNR classic has been omitted from the stadium’s playlist. I have been to ballgames in Baltimore, Washington, DC, Texas, both New York coliseums, and even one in Tel Aviv, Israel, and yet the unmistakable riff seems to make an appearance at every single ballpark. It has become an international anthem of galvanization. But when I look around at the crowd, I notice that the spectators are only get younger. The song was recorded twenty years ago, and as Axl Rose undergoes more and more botox treatment, you can’t help but wonder when the tune will be retired from the repertoire of the cheer-inspiring songs that have culminated over the decades.

As the game puttered along slowly, I also pondered the fate of British glam rocker, Gary Glitter, whose hit, “Rock And Roll,” or better known as”The Hey Song,” has seen more arenas and ballparks than airplay. The song was released in the early 1970’s, and since then Gary has seen a bit of legal trouble, notoriously his imprisonment in Vietnam on child sexual abuse charges. Following his conviction in 2006, the song began to filter its way out of major sporting events, eventually completely disappearing from most NFL stadiums, as well as most college arenas.

The progression of the sporting event soundtrack is at a halt. How long will it be until spectators only recognize Queen’s “We Will Rock You” as “That stomping, clappy thing they play at the ballgames?” Though it is doubtful the song will face this fate, the repetition of classic rock tunes in ballparks is predominantly an issue of comfort. That is, what would watching a sporting event be like if you didn’t recognize any of the songs being pumped over the PA?

But being that the days of hairspray lacquered rock and roll have long since met its demise, I thought about songs that I would play if I had the opportunity monopolize the PA system at a sporting event. A sporty song needs a solid, steady beat. Something people can clap their hands to. I scrolled through my iPod and came across the song “Atlas,” by the mathrock group, Battles. The drums are warlike, fully capable of directing a crowd of 30,000 spectators when to clap. The thick bass adds texture to the engrossing rhythms, and though the indistinguishable vocals resound of a Zappa-like quirkiness that impatient ears may be quick to dismiss, the song more than equates to the catchy, repetitiveness of Gary Glitter’s mono-lyrical crowd-pleaser.

I’m not saying that the songs that we expect to hear at ball games should be expelled from stadiums, but maybe it’s time that we expand our comfort zones and embrace a fresh fleet of songs that will paralyze our thoughts, as they become familiar with Axl and Gary, whose songs have staked their territory in our culture and virally in our minds.

You can hear Battles’ song “Atlas” on their myspace @ http://www.myspace.com/battlestheband

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