Friday Soundtrack, or We’re goin’ downtown! Springfield, alright!

For years it was just a dream, something that I’d daydream about as a kid. Minor league baseball in Springfield. I consider the Springfield-Ozark Mountain Ducks a dry run, as A) it wasn’t affiliated baseball and B) no matter what they called the team, it wasn’t in Springfield. Suffice it to say, then, that the spring and summer of 2005 was magical for me. Now an adult, with a family of my own, bona fide Minor League Baseball came to the Queen City in the form of the Springfield Cardinals, playing Double-A baseball in the Texas League.

It’s been everything I dreamed it could be. Scratch that, it’s been better. The team has made very few missteps in becoming a key piece of Downtown’s revival and a crucial thread in the community’s fabric. I can’t imagine how I ever enjoyed a summer without them. I never get to go as often as I’d like, but I’m never disappointed when I go. I’m not even going to try and explain the magic of a baseball game on a summer night. I could never do it justice.

The sport comes complete with its own anthem, as the crowd rises to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in the middle of the seventh and, as a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate, there’s a secondary anthem, “Here Comes the King,” a nod to the club’s longstanding ties to Anheuser Busch, that follows in the eighth.

A couple of years ago, though, the team got an unofficial anthem courtesy of one of the latest and greatest band to come out of Springfield, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. They recorded a Springfield-centric song called “Cardinal Rules” – which, sadly, I’ve never heard at a game. But it’s on my iPod and it’s in heavy rotation.

So, with the ‘Birds in the midst of their season-opening homestand, I’ll share it with you now. Enjoy.



Friday Soundtrack, or a mental break

Oh, Régine.

Well, just when I thought it was safe to poke my head out again, here come the Republicans and Democrats to shut down the government over .17% of the federal budget. It’s the same games we’ve come to know and despise – an unrelated rider is attached to a bill, and the whole process of actually doing stuff grinds to a halt because of the unrelated rider. Beautiful, ladies and gents. Way to earn the paycheck.


I need a mental break. My latest checkout from the incredible Springfield-Greene County Library system is the Grammy-winning album “The Suburbs” by indie rockers Arcade Fire. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) is my favorite track of the album, as they lovely Régine Chassagne coos over pulsing synth: “Living in the sprawl / Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains / And there’s no end in sight / I need the darkness someone please cut the lights…”

Appropriate, I guess, since the federal government looks like it’s going dark for a little while. But I’m going to try not to think about that tonight and try to enjoy my weekend, at least for a little bit.




Friday Soundtrack, or is this Fiasco’s fiasco?

There are very few artists that, when they put out a new album, I will buy sound unheard. One of the dropped a new joint – as the kids say – this week.

Lupe Fiasco, born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco and raised in Chicago, first caught my attention with his 2006 debut, Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor. He’s a different kind of MC than people are used to. That album’s lead single, for instance – called “Kick, Push” – was a skater-boy-meets-skater-girl love story. One of my personal favorites from that album is a track called “Daydreamin’,” featuring the divine Jill Scott. That song mocks the excesses of most rap music and its videos before Lupe says “I had to turn my back on what got you paid / I couldn’t see half the hood on me like Abu Ghraib / But I’d like to thank the streets that drove me crazy / And all the televisions out there that raised me…”

Fiasco continued to do his own thing on 2007’s The Cool, which was nearly a concept album, building off a couple of tracks on Food & Liquor. As said, “a fatherless boy is raised by supernatural characterizations of the streets (named the Streets) and the game (named the Game), squanders his potential, becomes motivated by greed, turns to dealing drugs, gets caught up on a few levels.” This album continued to distance Lupe, a clever lyricist, from the hip-hop morass.

So it was with great anticipation that I waited for Lupe’s next album…and waited, and waited. The album, Lasers, was delayed several times and Fiasco had to make several artistic concessions before the label would finally release it to an audience so eager to hear it, that 30,000 of them signed a petition demanding Atlantic release the album and many other fans held a protest outside Atlantic’s offices.

What did Lupe Fiasco’s fans get? Depends on who you ask. Some Web sites have given it horrible reviews, while gave it 3 out of 5 stars. Rolling Stone, however, loved it. They gave it 4 1/2 stars (out of 5), saying “Lasers, is shorter, brighter and — most admirably — more optimistic. It places Lupe in a tradition that runs from Marley to M.I.A.: the soul rebel who refuses to believe righteous struggle has to be a grind.”

I, of course, will make up my mind for myself. This Friday Soundtrack is the lead single from Lasers, “The Show Goes On.” Here Lupe reworks the chorus from Modest Mouse’s “Float On” and defiantly raps that, even when people try to bring him down or mistreat him:

…I don’t switch up I just laugh
Put my kicks up on they desk
Unaffected by they threats, then get busy on they ass
See that’s how that Chi-Town made me
That’s how my daddy raised me
They glittering may not be gold, don’t let no body play me
If you are my homeboy, you never have to pay me
Go on and put your hands up, when times are hard you stand up…

Good stuff from Lupe, bright and optimistic as Rolling Stone said. This one’s going to power my weekend. Enjoy yours.


Friday Soundtrack, or Fight for vict’ry

It’s Game Day.

Arch Madness – the Missouri Valley Conference’s men’s basketball tournament – tipped off last night in St. Louis and Missouri State joins the fray today, at noon, playing Southern Illinois for the right to advance to the semifinals.

That’s the inspiration for this week’s Friday Soundtrack. The song is best known as the “Missouri State Fight Song,” but it’s actual name is “The Scotsman.” It’s history was discussed in this thread over at MSU Bear Nation. Mighty MO State is the only school to use “The Scotsman” as its fight song, though my alma mater shares the song with Utah State University. That school’s Wiki page claims “The popular Scotsman song was composed by student Ebenezer J. Kirkham, class of 1918, though a similar song had been used by other colleges for at least a decade.” USU’s version of The Scotsman is arranged differently than MSU’s, and the Aggies use it as a supplemental song, not their primary fight song.

MSU’s version, meanwhile, was officially adopted in 1960, though it was likely used unofficially used prior to that, and the lyrics have evolved along with the name of the school.

That part kind of disappoints me. The original version has a charm to it and I like it better than what we sing right now. Today’s version involves too much spelling, in my opinion. I might be in the minority on this one. I’ve posted the original lyrics – which could be updated a little bit to say something like “True-hearted Bear from Missouri” – so you can make up your own mind.



“The Scotsman”

Show me the Scotsman
Who doesn’t love the thistle,
Show me the Englishman
Who doesn’t love the rose,
Show me the true-
Hearted man of Springfield,
Who doesn’t love the sport.


Way down where the
Ozarks zephyrs blow.

Friday-adjacent Soundtrack, or my Twitter-brush with celebrity

Posting a Friday Soundtrack on a Monday? Yep. It’s been like that the past few days around here. Let’s focus on the positive, though. Let’s just say Wow, two soundtracks in a week! This’ll be a great week!

Mike Doughty is the subject this time around. The former front man of unclassifiable late ’90s band Soul Coughing has been doing the solo thing since the band broke up in 2000 – day that will live in infamy for me – and it turns out I actually like the solo stuff better. My ears have been on a Mike Doughty kick lately, specifically his 2005 release “Haughty Melodic” and 2009’s “Sad Man, Happy Man.”

But it was a track off of 2008’s “Golden Delicious” that brought me as close to Doughty as I’ll probably ever be (he doesn’t hit Springfield much on tour). At work Saturday, just as I was going to break, his song “27 Jennifers” came on over the speakers and I Tweeted something about Doughty’s music making cupcakes taste better – which is true. My jaw dropped hours later when I checked my Twitter feed and saw that Doughty – an active and entertaining Twitter user – had retweeted MY Tweet. I usually play it cool, but I had a few geek-out moments after that.

Doughty’s music, just like Soul Coughing’s, is an acquired taste, and I seem to be the only person in my general proximity who has acquired it. Which, by the way, I take as an indictment of their tastes and not mine. His syncopated guitar playing is a signature of his music, and he is a solid lyricist – no doubt benefiting from the fact that he also writes poetry.

It wasn’t easy to pick a song for this week’s Soundtrack, so I picked two. This video features “I Just Want the Girl in the Blue Dress to Keep On Dancing” off of “Golden Delicious” and  “Year of the Dog,” from “Sad Man, Happy Man” – a two-in-one of Doughty awesomeness. Enjoy, and check out his Tumblr blog here.


Friday Soundtrack, or Relax…it’s the weekend

Emiliana Torrini

Emiliana Torrini

How messed up has this week – with all its snow days and kids at home – got me? I almost didn’t post a Friday Soundtrack because I forgot it was Friday. Unacceptable.

This week’s soundtrack fell into my lap at work tonight, when I heard the soothing voice of Emiliana Torrini. I fell in love with her music about four years ago, mostly because of her angelic voice. The Iceland native blends elements of folk, electronica and pop together, and does so beautifully. Her 2005 album “The Fisherman’s Wife” comes highly recommended by me.

That’s what album this song, “Nothing Brings Me Down,” comes from. It’s a perfect Friday night song, as Emiliana coos “…Home alone and happy / Nothing brings me down / My love for you is ready / Nothing brings me down…”

Here’s hoping nothing brings you down this weekend. It’s Friday. Let’s relax, y’all.


Friday Soundtrack, or John Legend and The Roots get me movin’

John Legend and The RootsThanks to the phenomenal Springfield-Greene County Library District, I’m currently spinning “Wake Up” by John Legend and The Roots. It’s an album that I had high expectations for. Combining my favorite band of all time with my favorite R&B singer? Potential rockability is off the charts here.

“Wake Up” is everything I imagined it could be. The album puts a modern spin on some protest songs from the ’60s and ’70s, giving them a modern feel. The songs retain their classic feel without sounding dated, thanks in part to verses from MCs Black Thought and Common. These songs, though written in another era, have messages that are just as relevant today.

That includes the Friday Soundtrack selection “Wake Up Everybody,” originally done by Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes in 1975, with Teddy Pendergrass on lead vocals. Legend and the Roots are joined by Melanie Fiona and Common in their version. Enjoy.