Saturday, June 13, 2015

Songs in the Key of Night Owl

Stevie Wonder had his double album called "Songs in the Key of Life" back in 1976. It was critically acclaimed from its release and spoke to many facets of life -- recollections of childhood, first love, lost love, songs about faith, and songs about social justice for the poor. Later acclaim came nearly 30 years after its release in 2005, when Rolling Stone named it number 57 on the list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

In the blog world, the most critically acclaimed blog around is Night Owl Cards. Greg's writing is excellent and reflects well on his real-world newspaper job. Greg also has consistency and staying power -- he had 329 posts last year, and that was his lowest output since his four-month debut in 2008.  Speaking for myself, I have trouble putting out five posts every week, whether it's because work gets in the way, or my wife says I'm spending too much time with my cards again, or I have a social commitment that I can't get out of (or, even, that I don't want to get out of), or I just don't feel like writing.  

Greg sent me an envelope of cards recently that crossed off several cards off my late 1980s/early 1990s want lists.  To thank him, yes, I'm going with a musically themed post. It's songs in the key of Night Owl!

1.  1990 Baseball Cards Magazine 1968 Topps Design Robin Yount

For whatever reason, I feel like Baseball Cards Magazine did a better job with mimicking the old Topps designs than Topps Archives has lately.  I am not sure if the magazine cards would stand up to the side-by-side scrutiny to which Archives is subjected here, though.

What song goes with this card? How about a Roy Orbison Demo Recording:

2.  1984 Fleer: Moose Haas and Ed Romero

This Moose Haas card shows what to me looks like a guy who was way ahead on fashion trends -- sporting a mullet a full 5 years before the rest of America caught up with him. Haas is remembered as a guy who never seemed to reach his potential, but I choose to remember him as the pitcher who won game 4 of the ALCS in 1982 in snow flurries -- forcing the game 5 that the Brewers won to get to the World Series.

For a guy who played in just 730 games over 12 seasons, Ed Romero certainly enjoyed a great deal of success. He made it to two World Series (1982 & 1986, both losses for his team) and also was a member of the 1988 Red Sox that lost in the ALCS to the Oakland A's.

Success like that enjoyed by these two guys deserves a song off someone's greatest hits album.  How about Little River Band's "The Night Owls"?  Appropriately, this song is from the early 1980s too.

3.  1992 Score

Yet another card I needed for my player collections, the Chuck Crim 1992 Score is now safely in the Crim pages.  Bill Spiers bunting here seems appropriate -- he was drafted in the first round and seemed to have such promise coming out of Clemson.  To be fair to Spiers, he showed the kind of decent player he could be when he was in Houston later in his career -- he had too many injuries in Milwaukee, and the club deemed him expendable.

The less said about Stubbs, the better.  When the best I can say about a guy is that he was a poor man's Greg Brock....

To go along with these cards -- all of which I needed but which by themselves are fairly nondescript -- let's go with an upbeat song from the 1960s by surfer rock king Dick Dale and his Del-Tones called, of course, "Night Owl."

4.  1992 Stadium Club

Though not at all reflective of what is on these cards, I did a "Search Google for this image" for each of these.  The Doug Henry "Best guess for this image" returned, "ken griffey jr autographed" while the Gary Sheffield result was, no lie, "doug mirabelli."

It made me laugh, I guess.

Sort of like the original Blues Brothers movie made me laugh. Perhaps a little known fact is that the Blues Brothers backup band featured three members of the band Booker T & the M.G.'s -- an R&B/funk band which released a hit called "Green Onions" that became a staple for the jazz ensembles at my high school back in the 1980s.  They also had a great tune called "Night Owl Walk."

5.  1987 Donruss Opening Day

This year's Donruss offering used the border design from the 1987 set, but that's where the similarities end.  More to the point, this Opening Day set -- as opposed to Topps's set called Opening Day -- gets it right: Donruss's 1987 set included each team's starting lineup. If Topps did their set this way and didn't use the base set's design -- hell, just use plain white borders, even -- I'd love that set.

This card went right into the Gantner PC for me. Gantner appears to be daring all of us not to admire his auto-tint glasses. 

A song I had never heard before this blog post but which I really liked came from Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Famers The Lovin' Spoonful, and it's called "Night Owl Blues."

6.  1989 Bowman Bill Wegman

It helped complete a team set, so I had to post it.

Not that it has anything to do with my song choice, either.  R&B Legend Wilson Pickett released two of the best "hang out and party and have fun" songs in the 1960s, one of which stands up better, in my opinion, than the other.  The one that doesn't stand up well is "Land of 1000 Dances" -- I mean, any song that's was covered by the WWF Wrestlers int he 1980s.... The one that stands up much better is "Mustang Sally," but I may be biased because I played saxophone.

Wilson Pickett also had a song called "Night Owl" that he released in 1969.

7.  1991 Score 100 Rising Stars

George Canale never sounded to me like he'd be a "rising" star or a star of any kind.  I mean, the former Virginia Tech Hokie told the local newspaper that he wanted a trade in 1991 because the Brewers weren't giving him a chance to play.  Well, George, if you hit .254/.349/.393 in DENVER in 1990 with only 12 home runs in 544 plate appearances, tell my why you deserve a chance?

It also makes me wonder how low the bar for being a "rising star" was.

It's similar to my feelings about Carly Simon as a singer.  I know she was a huge star in the 1970s, but listening to her music then, now, and anywhere in between, I start to wonder whether musical tastes were a when she hit the top of the charts.  But, she has a greatest hit called "Night Owl" as well.

Greg, thank you very much for the cards, and I hope that at least one of these songs is one you enjoy!


  1. LRB was an early favorite of mine when I first became aware of popular music on the radio. I have too many LRB albums somewhere around here.

    The others I don't know, but there are a couple other favorite artists here, so I'll have to check the songs out.

  2. Tony, got a PWE to send you but can't find your address. Email me at shanediaz82 at yahoo dot com when you have a chance...

  3. I never would have guessed there were so many titles with Night Owl in them. Great post!