If you follow baseball on the web, you’ve probably heard about The Baseball Project. The Baseball Project is a music group composed of Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate), Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows), Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Linda Pitmon (Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3). Think of this an alternative rock supergroup that sings songs about baseball.
When I first heard about this project, my first thought was “bad idea”. And when I read about the formation of the group it confirmed my suspicions.
“It finally took flight at the R.E.M. pre-Hall of Fame induction party in New York,” Wynn remembers. “Everyone was happy. The wine was flowing, the food was incredible and spring training had just started. Scott and I talked baseball until most of the party guests had cleared out. And we actually remembered it the next day.”
I can’t help but be reminded of Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls and David St. Hubbins after-show discussion of their desire to write a rock opera about the life of Jack the Ripper (“I envy us.”). It turns out, I was way way off.
Through a strange series of events, I learned one of Yep Roc Record’s publicists and I share a good mutual friend. We were both actually in the same wedding two years ago. Recently, he and some of my other friends were at the R.E.M. show in Raleigh (VIP access and all…yes, I’m jealous) when he mentioned the upcoming The Baseball Project album to them. Now, my friends (who are not big baseball fans) brought up my unique interest in baseball (website, book, nerdiness, etc.) and soon the band’s publicity people contacted me.
So, after a series of e-mail conversations, I learned more about the band and get a copy of the CD. This is no Saucy Jack. And just so you know, my music interests converge where county, folk, pop, and punk all meet: R.E.M. is my all-time favorite band. I love it, I absolutely love it. There’s no “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” or “Centerfield” (not that those are bad songs); this is a serious record with unique and interesting songs. You could play if for your friends who know nothing about baseball, and they probably wouldn’t catch the theme.
For the past few weeks, I’ve listened to it numerous times. My favorite song is dedicated to Harvey Haddix, who pitched a perfect game for 12 innings, but isn’t credited with a “perfect game”—stupid baseball jerks. My only question is, why not include a line about Pedro Martinez who once threw nine perfect innings before losing his perfect game in the tenth?
Anyway, I’m no music critic, so I won’t do a formal review. Let me just say, that I really like the album. And though I have some connections to people involved, I’m not just saying I like it to help them out. First, do they need my help? “Hey, Peter Buck is in the band, but to go platinum we really need J.C. Bradbury to give us a thumbs up.” Reductio ad adsurdum. Second, if I didn’t like it I just wouldn’t say anything. Trust me folks, I honestly like this album.
If you’re interested in learning more about the group, check out the blog. I’m hoping to arrange an interview with Steve Wynn in the near future, and there may be some promotional opportunities to snag copies of my book and the album soon. I will keep you posted.
Here’s a video of the group on David Letterman, playing “Past Time”.