With all this talk recently (well…for months) about kicking “Sweet Caroline” to the Lansdowne Street curb, it’s time to bring the heat and offer up a candidate worthy of slipping into that middle of the eighth inning slot. That’s right, I’m talking to you, Fenway spin-master TJ Connelly. But it needs to be a track that gets the people feeling good. Even feeling fine. Dammit, TJ, just let the music play. That’s right, I’m bringing the Doobie Brothers’ classic “Listen to the Music” to the table. Why? Oh, I’ll tell you why.
This is not just some wild, nonsensical suggestion out of left field. It’s one of the most symbolic items that was part of a journey, almost nine years ago to the day, that I’m positive had a hand in breaking the infamous Curse of the Bambino. Let me take you back there, because — quite frankly — I can’t do anything else with a World Series ticket waiting for me at Will Call.
It was 2004 and I was a producer at Boston.com. I ran this little section called the Lighter Side and I embarked on a road trip adventure to St. Louis between Games 2 and 3 in search of Red Sox Nation, a World Series ticket, and more importantly – a win. In surreal fashion, all of that happened. But there was one moment that still gives me chills when I think about it. Of all places, it was a pit stop in Erie, Pa., at a place called the Quaker Steak & Lube off Route 90.
This was pre-social networking days. We had message boards to mess around with and comments on some of our “blogs.” The IT team rigged up a Verizon cell phone so I could get online from the road and I made connections along the way with Red Sox Nation straight through to Missouri. Here’s the blog post from that magical night that will have you likely say, “Hells yes, I want ‘Listen to the Music’ to play at Fenway Park. TONIGHT!”
To preface this entry, I had written a post declaring my road trip soundtrack the night before leaving. A college buddy of mine replied in the comments that it was a damn shame I didn’t have Doobie Brothers Greatest Hits. Here’s the entry in its original form…
From Oct. 25, 2004
If you’re lucky, one specific event occurs during a small stretch of time that puts everything into perspective: An epiphany, if you will.
Since I left Boston at 8 a.m. on Monday morning, I’d been waiting for something to spring up, an indication that I was meant to be in this place at this moment in time. Who knew the town of Erie, Pennsylvania would be my guiding light?
I was hoping the Lighter Side hotline would produce some leads for the road. I had no idea there would be 30 voicemails to listen to. Sorry if we missed you on the first leg, and we’ll do our best to hit you on the home stretch to St. Louis. But we have to hustle to make game time. So I just want to say thanks for being the best damn group of sports fans in the world no matter how this shakes out.
Earlier today I got a call from a guy named Bob Henderson, a resident of Erie, who said he had some Red Sox fanatics who would love to be photographed for Boston.com. We formulated a plan, and by 8 p.m. I was in the parking lot of the Quaker Steak & Lube, a wings joint right off of Rte. 90, meeting my newest of Lighter Side friends.
But not only did they welcome the Lighter Side with an unbelievable homemade sign (of which I’m still floored), but Bob knew of my Doobie-less conundrum from my previous blog entry. So we met, took some photos, had some laughs … and upon my exit Bob says: “Hey, this is for you.” Doobie Brothers Greatest Hits.
I shook his hand with tremendous gusto, hopped in the car, and headed to the other side of Cleveland for a hotel. In went the Doobies, immediately forwarded to song four. The beginning guitar piece for “Listen to the Music” is one of the smoothest riffs ever. I needed the fix fast, and “China Grove” wasn’t doing it. Follow that up with “Black Water,” and you can’t help but sing at the top of your lungs.
But then … song six came on, and I had forgotten what it was. When I discovered it was “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” everything came together. Destiny told the idiot (this guy joined me for the ride) to move over, for she was riding shotgun now.
Yes, I was supposed to be in Erie the night of October 25, two hours after my brother’s son was born … in search of the true Red Sox Nation and a World Series ring.
It gives me chills just thinking about it. We’ll see you on the Lighter Side.
Fast forward to today, Oct. 24, 2013
And the chills … again, nearly a decade later. Just a magical evening between two Red Sox strangers during the most important run in the franchise’s history. And even to this day, after my Major League dreams were squashed many moons ago, I still envision strolling up to the batter’s box at Fenway with the bases jacked and the speakers smoothly spreading “twang-a-twang-a-twaaaang-a-twang-twanga twanga.” It just puts me in a zone. A happy place. So pure.
So TJ … what more needs to be said than, “Whoa-oh-ohhhh … listen to the music …” Sox fans, hashtag #DoobiesAtFenway and make your voice heard.