Sunday, March 26, 2017

Night Owl Sent Me Cards

During my recent work-imposed blogging break, I've still been able to sneak on Twitter for a few minutes here and there. About the only thing I have had time for doing other than liking and retweeting some posts here and there has been to try to remember to post a song for the 30 Day Music Challenge, which came to my attention thanks to erstwhile baseball card blogger Marcus:

As you can see, these categories provide a way for us musicophiles to dig into the recesses of our brains for songs that we may have forgotten, or which may be in the front of our minds or, even for songs on Google that we have no idea came out during the year of our birth. As an aside, that last category provided a strange confluence for me in that I had no idea that The Doors "Riders on the Storm" came out the same year as Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven". The Doors seem so very 1960s, and Zeppelin is the epitome of 70s metal to me...for them to overlap in 1971 is interesting.

Every so often, Night Owl will reply to my post with a song of his own. Since I could use some good music today, let's look at the cards that Night Owl sent me around the beginning of February highlighted by his musical responses.

1.  A Song that is a cover by another artist
"Take Me to the River" by the Talking Heads

I have to admit that I did not realize that this was a cover song. In fact, until now, I did not have the opportunity to look for the original song that the Talking Heads were covering. Then, thanks to YouTube, I found it:

Thing is, both versions are just excellent in their own ways. Al Green's version is a horn-driven funk tune that I almost certainly would have enjoyed playing in jazz ensemble back in high school. 

The Talking Heads version is slower and is driven more by the bass line and keyboards. It is the same and yet entirely different. Add in David Byrne's completely different vocal interpretation, and you get a classic of an entirely different breed.

Speaking of classics of an entirely different breed, Night Owl sent me some great cards from the early and mid-1970s. Those days in Brewers history were pivotal in that the drafts from those years helped build the teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and some of the players on those teams started showing up in the big leagues -- such as the 21-year-old Jim Slaton on that high-number 1972 Topps card that is impossible to find at a reasonable price anywhere...unless, of course, Night Owl happens to have an extra and sends it to you.

All of these were cards that were significant upgrades on condition to the ones I had in my collection already. More importantly, these cards are an excellent reminder that porkchop sideburns rocked in the 1970s.

2. A song to play at one's wedding
"Groove is in the Heart" by Deee-Lite

This probably gives us more insight as to the date that Night Owl was married more than it tells us what music he'd prefer to hear. At least that is what I am guessing. This song was literally ubiquitous in 1990. You could not go to a dance club or turn on Top 40 radio without hearing this song and having every woman/girl in earshot digging in and dancing their hearts out.

For my song, I selected "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol because that was my wife and my first dance song at our wedding. We cut it off at the part where it got more upbeat than would otherwise support a slower dance, but it still is "our" song.

That Ben Sheets card took me a bit by surprise. Again, since I was not collecting at the time when it was issued, I did not realize that Topps's folks apparently decided to trade Sheets to the Padres without the Brewers or the Padres having any knowledge of such a trade taking place. As best I can tell, this also was not one of those situations where Topps was echoing an error that actually occurred in the original set being mimicked (here the 1958 Topps, which has tons of variations). Nope, just a straight up "small markets don't care" as best I can tell.

Boy, if I had been collecting in 2007, I'd have been as upset about that as I get about the Brewers having three cards in the Opening Day set.

3. Name a Favorite 70s song
"Signed, Sealed, Delivered" by Stevie Wonder

Night Owl is a few years older than me. Not many, mind you, but when it comes to memories of pop culture, those years get to be important. I'm a child of the 1980s for sure -- I turned 9 years old in 1980 and graduated high school in 1990. Night Owl is a child of the 1970s. No doubt about it. 

I say that because my favorite 1970s songs tend to be songs that I did not hear until much later after they were released. I don't have a ton of contemporary knowledge. Night Owl, on the other hand, replied to my choice of "Clash City Rockers" by saying he could pick a different 70s song for literally every day of the year but settled on this one. 

I hate to admit it, but this is the first time I have listed to this song. It's a solid, straight ahead Stevie Wonder song. My memories of Stevie revolve around the soft-rock pablum of "I Just Called To Say I Love You." That song got overplayed so badly that I just can't listen to it anymore. 

On the other hand, this melange of 2016 Archives Gary Carter (wrong logo, was just the team name in 1991...), 1989 O-Pee-Chee of Dale Sveum (whose career was inexorably altered in 1989 by a collision on a popup which broke his leg), a 2008 Topps Update Salomon Torres (who finished his career in MIlwaukee with 80 decent innings in 2008), and two 2008 Topps Chrome cards. 

As was the case with the Warren Spahn card yesterday, I always appreciate it when someone sends me a Gary Carter card. Carter was my first real player collection in the 1980s, and I still enjoy getting his cards for my collection.

4. A Song from Night Owl's Preteen Years
"Afternoon Delight" by Starland Vocal Band

I selected "Blue Bayou" by Linda Ronstadt, but this one was right up there for me too. The song was released in April 1976, and it was still getting airplay well into 1977 in Wisconsin. That, or its catchy chorus got stuck in my head as a 4-year-old. That's possible too.

It took many years after that for me to realize what this song is really about. One commenter on YouTube wrapped it up well, though: as Melo Fran said, "At the time we thought this song was soooo racy lol!!!!! Now it looks like a bunch of nerds ..."

These cards are kind of nerdy too. But I like them anyway. 

Someday soon, after I get done putting my Topps parallels, inserts, and oddballs binders together (I've made it to 2004...only 13 more years to go!), I'll get started with the cataloguing and bindering of the Brewers minor league sets. 

Before that, though, I can tell you that Mike Grayson, unfortunately, passed away in May of 2016 in Tampa at the age of just 48 years old. His obituary said his passions were baseball and music -- playing in 1988 and 1989 in the Brewers system and being a wedding DJ. He died from a brain aneurysm, so that allowed his organs to be removed to help others get a second chance at life. The outpouring of love on his page really touched me too. Guys like him are common throughout the minor leagues, yet each has a life that goes beyond baseball.

Maybe we should crowd source a "30-day baseball card challenge"...


  1. Yikes on Grayson.

    Groove is in the Heart is a favorite, not just a good song to dance to at a wedding. It's not your average dance song or at least wasn't at the time.

    This remind me I gotta respond to any Music Challenge tweets I might've missed. So busy!

  2. Groove is in the Heart. I HATED that song when it came out. I watched a lot of VH1 in those days. Every time this video came on, i was mesmerized. It was groovy. The song grew on me and now I crank it up. Great cards from the Owl. Jerry Bell's sideburns are right on!

  3. Wow - when I came to the 70's song, a Stevie Wonder song also popped in my head, but one totally different:

    (not this version per se, but everyone should see Stevie jamming on Sesame Street)

  4. Great post, 2 days in a row! You're spoiling us, Tony. I would participate in such a challenge.