The baseball season opens full scale Monday, and with it, we’ll have cold beer, warm blankets and high hopes.
One of the traditions of the summer game is “walk-up music”: When a hometown player comes to bat or steps on the mound, a theme song of the player’s choosing is played over the public address system.
For example, when the Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer steps to the plate this season, fans will hear a bit of “What You Know” by T.I. — a hip-hop song that apparently appeals to the hometown hero but underscores the reality that there are generational differences in musical tastes.
As a tribute to baseball and politics, MinnPost decided to celebrate the opener by asking a cross section of Minnesota politicians what song they’d want played when they step to the microphone.
(In fairness, we’re following through on an idea that recently was expressed in a tweet by NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd.)
Among politicians who played our game, the choices of “walk-up songs” were as broad as the political spectrum.
There were country tunes, children’s tunes, rock tunes, even a little classical music and, of course, a tune that has become a baseball classic.
The choice of artists ranged widely, too: Cage the Elephant, Charlie Daniels, Kermit the Frog, Trampled by Turtles … and more.
Sometimes, the choice of theme music underscores the politician’s personality.
State Rep. Rep. Tony Cornish, for example, chose as his up-to-the-mic music the Charlie Daniels Band’s version of “Simple Man.”
“Pay particular attention to the lyrics,” wrote Cornish, the Good Thunder Republican who has been leading the charge against tighter gun laws. A sampling:
I have to work like a dog to make ends meet
There’s crooked politicians and crime in the street
And I’m madder’n hell
And I ain’t going to take it no more.
Rep. Phyllis Kahn, a Minneapolis Democrat, selected a theme song that she says represents her life choices.
“Going back to my baseball fanatic days,’’ wrote Kahn in an e-mail, “my favorite song was ‘Don’t Fence Me In,’ which maybe was a prelude to moving out of New York City and my interest in the women’s rights movement.’’
Kahn, a passionate follower of the Brooklyn Dodgers, has written essays on her love of the team and the game – and of her strong dislike of Walter O’Malley, the man who moved the Dodgers out of Ebbets Field to Los Angeles in 1959.
It’s that Dodger move that made Kahn a big believer in community ownership during the debate over the Twins’ stadium.
Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington said he’d have theme songs for all occasions.
“This year, with all the Democrat tax increases moving forward, it would be ‘Bringin’ on the Heartbreak’ by Def Leppard,’’ Garofalo wrote.
In better times — meaning, in his view, when the GOP was in the majority — Garofalo said his theme music would likely be Van Halen’s “Panama.’’
But Garofalo loves nothing more than keeping political friends and foes off balance: “Every once in a while, just to mess with the other side, I’d have ‘The Rainbow Connection’ by Kermit the Frog.’’
Some of the political leaders would opt for psych-up music.
For example, Rep. Erin Murphy, the House majority leader from St. Paul who was instrumental in the DFL regaining control, used “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked’’ by Cage the Elephant to inspire her throughout the fall.
“The song is gritty, a reminder that we live in a complicated, imperfect world,” wrote Murphy. “It’s the chorus that I love …’’
Oh no I can’t slow down
I can’t hold back
Though you know I wish I could
Oh no there ain’t no rest for the wicked
Until we close our eyes for good.
St. Paul City Council Member Dave Thune long has used music for political motivation. Early in his political career, he would turn up The William Tell Overture full blast before charging into the council chamber to discuss such things as sewers and zoning changes.
In recent years, he’s added a jukebox and a powerful stereo “that irritates my neighbors” at City Hall. He motivates himself prior to council meetings with Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” or rockers by Queen.
You can see the styles of the Twin Cities’ mayors by the songs they selected.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak selected “Walt Whitman’’ by Trampled by Turtles. Why?
“They’re local and high energy, like him,” said the mayor’s communications guy, John Stiles.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s choice, on the other hand, reflected his understated view of the world: The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
U.S. senators’ songs
When Sen. Al Franken steps to the mic, the song he’d want played is the Kinks’ “Better Things’’ — sentiments that could be part of his progressive stump speeches:
Here’s wishing you the bluest sky
and hoping something better comes tomorrow …
For her part, Franken’s senior Senate partner, Sen. Amy Klobuchar apparently wants to offer hope that the Senate is capable of dealing with the issues of the day and not just staging partisan quibbling sessions.
Klobuchar’s up-to-the-mic tune would be the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out.’’
Wrote Klobuchar: “When my colleagues in the Senate start to dig in their heels, I think it’s important to remember ‘life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend.’ ’’
And for the closer, the songs of three of the state’s legislative leaders.
House Speaker Paul Thissen has been hearing so much of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself’’ that he’d adopt it for his up-to-the-mic song.
“A great song, but more important, it’s the song my sons, Griffin and Evan, listen to to psych themselves up before games,” Thissen wrote.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk stuck to the theme, choosing a song that has become a baseball classic since its release in 1985 — John Fogerty’s “Centerfield.”
“That would be my song because I’m ready to play,” said Bakk.
It turns out the Fogerty tune would be the choice of Senate Minority Leader Dave Hann as well.
No wonder we all welcome the opener.
Baseball brings us together.