Up to 122 days without high school sports as the soundtrack of our lives
Peas and carrots, peanut butter and jelly, the New England Patriots and winning ... you can't have one of these things without the other and I'm here to tell you that sports and music are just as inseparable.
A great bass line and the timbre of a strong drummer is the closest thing human beings have to a time machine. Close your eyes when you hear one guitar riff or another and your mind will take you somewhere you never thought you'd be again. With the right song, you feel like you're actually in that moment ... and for sports fans, so many of those etched-in-stone memories revolve around the games.
What are some of the songs most associated with each sport? Cue up YouTube or Spotify to listen along to a few of these tunes as we meander through this athletic jukebox.
The most football band ever has to be AC/DC and the most football song ever has to be 'Thunderstruck.' When that fast riff and hard beating bass drum hits in any stadium, it's time to unleash some big hits and play some defense. It can be the dead of winter, as far away from football season as possible, and when the thunder strikes it's football season in your mind.
'For Those About to Rock' is another football anthem, partly because the Patriots use it at Gillette Stadium so it's become the backdrop of the entrances for the MIAA's Super Bowls. Then there's 'Dirty Deeds' which was a staple of the pregame warm-up list before football when I was in high school.
True story: A future NFL linebacker once climbed the bleachers to request (or perhaps demand) a change of song in pregame warm-ups before a game in my sophomore season (the year 2000). I don't think it was anything personal against AC/DC, I don't even remember if that's the song that was playing. Maybe he didn't like 'Who Let The Dogs Out.'
Point being that's the level of power music holds over our mood and our emotions.
Van Halen always reminds me of high school football, which is a little strange because I went to school in the early 2000's, not the late 80's. 'Dreams' and 'Right Now' always seemed to be playing over the locker room boom box (no iPod docks in those days). Our season soundtrack was already planting the seeds of nostalgia and they've kept blooming to this day.
Whitesnake's 'Here I Go Again' is another instant memory maker. That song has season opener baked into the embers of its opening notes. Maybe it's just me -- music critics probably hope it's just me -- but I'm seeing a pattern of power ballads going hand-in-hand with football.
Of course you can't talk football without talking marching bands. To this day I can't hear the Notre Dame fight song without the blood draining from my face because that's also the anthem of rival Everett High. Michigan, Ohio State, Boston College, Maine's iconic Stein Song ... there's nothing like the trumpets and tuba's on college game day and it's awesome when you hear a huge band like that at Danvers on the high school scene.
Track? If you've never pounded the pavement to "Babe O'Reilly" (The Who) odds are we can't be friends. Years before Scott Zolak honed in on the band The Outfield, the 2001 Greater Boston League Peabody boys spring track team made their "Winning It All" a victory anthem and highlight tape staple.
The most hockey song? 'Take On Me' by a-ha. It's so upbeat it just feels like the perfect hockey song. It's very playable by pep bands and I always heard it during college hockey warm-ups so it always stuck with me as the soundtrack of the game.
One of the best things about songs and hockey is the trademark goal song. Every team needs one. You have to love the Bruins and their Kernkraft 400 anthem. Even if you hated the Blues and their constant playing of Gloria last year, you had to respect it a little.
The best local goal song I can remember was Beverly's boys using Fall Out Boy in the Andrew and Connor Irving Era -- there was a lot of "lighting 'em up" by the Panthers offense in those days.
Basketball? That's a little tougher. I love the way the Boston Celtics take the floor to one of the instrumentals from the Rocky soundtrack. One song that always reminds me of hoop? Nelly's 'Number One.' I hear that song and I automatically start thinking about Allen Iverson breaking the ankles of some hapless defender on his way to the rim.
Baseball? You've got 'Dirty Water' by the Standells if you spend time at Fenway Park. I'm not a big 'Sweet Caroline' guy; Tom Jones is better left with Carlton from 'Fresh Prince' than at the ballpark.
Maybe it's a new trend or maybe I only recently noticed it, but it seems there's been an invasion of country music in baseball. I don't hate it. That twang you find in the country genre feels like summer. It's not my favorite kind of music, but as far as having the sun on your face waiting for first pitch, it sets the mood.
Every athlete has his own play list. I used to warm up to 50 Cent before a big sprint relay. These days, running 5k road races, I prefer a mix of rock, rap and classics. I like to mix up a long (6-8 minutes) song with a shorter one (2-4 minutes) to keep myself engaged, pace wise. Besides wrestling theme songs, I'll list a few bands from some of my race lists: Avenged Sevenfold, Dire Straits, Black 47, Foreigner and Audioslave. Maybe there was a Taylor Swift in there once. Maybe not.
One of the things I'm most looking forward to when high school sports is starting across the sideline and mindlessly bobbing my head while one of these songs (or someone else's favorite I left out) blared over the PA system. Me and my sports loving ears will be ready to rock.