“Take me out to the ballgame” warbled like you’ve never heard it warbled before

August 31st, 2006 → 12:06 pm @ // No Comments

Bob Dylan’s been doing a show on XM satellite radio for the last while. I already have Sirius and have been wary of paying for another satellite service, even if it featured an hour of one of the primary poets and chroniclers of our time. (That hour, I feared, could be made up of incoherent rambling. I’ve seen more than a dozen Dylan concerts over the last 16 years. Some have been transcendent. And some have been inscrutible. Inscrutible can be interesting, but not $12.95 a month interesting.)

Yesterday I bought Dylan’s new album, Modern Times, and the Virgin megastore threw in a CD of Dylan’s braodcast on baseball (which is already in the Hall of Fame). It’s insane. Truly unbelievable. I’ll likely listen to it all the way through four or five times today alone. Dylan starts out with an a-cappela version of “Take Me Out…” and it’s crystal clear and predictably sui generis. Then he tosses off transitions like “Stepping up to the batter’s box first” (to introduce The Skeletons herky-jerky version of said same song) and “Abbott and Costello said a lot of ballplayers have funny names” in between classic radio calls (including Ted Williams’ home run in his final at bat) and a wonderfully eclectic mix of songs.

Some of the best bits are where Dylan quotes lyrics of some of the songs he’s played interspersed with his own quips. To wit:

* After Chance Halladay’s “Home Run”: “He’s gonna knock the cover right off the ball…that was Chance Halladay stepping up to the plate, hitting a grand slam, sweeping you off your feet, scoring a home run with you, and with me too. Home run, on Theme Time Radio Hour.”

* Before Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Baseball Canto”: “He was a brave man, and a brave poet, ‘watching baseball, sitting in the sun, eating popcorn, reading Ezra Pound and wishing that Juan Marichal would hit a hole right through the Anglo-Saxon tradiiton in the first canto and demonish the barbarian invaders.’ Well…why don’t i let Larry say the rest of it.”

* After Sister Wynona Carr’s “The Ball Game”: Sister Wynona Carr talking about life being a ballgame, where everyday life is a ballgame and everybody can play, ‘Life is a ballgame and everyone can play: Jesus is at the home plate and at the first base is Temptation, second base is Sin and at third is Tribulation. King Solomon is the umpire, Satan’s doing all he can to psych you out and Daniel’s up at bat, Satan pitches a fastball and Job hits a home run,’ you’ve got to just swing at the ball, give it your all, Moses is on the sidelines, he’s waiting to be called…Sister Wynona Carr, ‘The Ball Game.'”

* In the middle of Sonny Rollins’s “Newk’s Fadeaway,” Dylan cuts in right before a Rollins solo and says, “Let’s go.”

* And finally, Dylan actually answers email: “Let’s enter our email basket and hope they don’t throw us a curve.” A woman writes in from Las Vegas saying her boyfriend complains that when she listens to games on the radio at night he can’t sleep. Dylan answers: “Well Jamie, you should do what I used to do. When I was supposed to be asleep, I’d take the beside radio and slip it under my pillow, press your ear close to the pillow, which is what you’re supposed to do with pillows anyway, listen to the second game of the doubleheader without bothering anyone else in the house. Millions upon millons used to do the same thing back when radio was king, and I hope you still do that with Theme Time Radio Hour, your private radio pal.”


I don’t know if your local Virgin Megastore still has these promos in stock, but you should sprint out there and check.

(Modern Times is pretty great too.)

(I think I knew this, but this week’s Louis Menand New Yorker article on a new book of published Dylan interviews reminded me that in one 14-month period in ’65 and ’66, Dylan released Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde. During those same 14 months, the Beatles released Help, Rubber Soul, and Revolver. As Menand says, “It was a good time to be alive.” True; that’s also a good way to make mortal accomplishments feel pretty insignificant.)

Post Categories: Baseball & Bob Dylan

4 Comments → ““Take me out to the ballgame” warbled like you’ve never heard it warbled before”

  1. greperry

    17 years ago

    And don’t forget Pet Sounds. May 1966.

    And waiting for your review of Modern Times. Too many that I’ve read are Greil wannabe’s. I think he’s up to something but I haven’t figured it out yet. He’s too inscrutable to get in a few listens. But there’s an almost random artlessness to most of the lyrics and an almost monotonus length to some of the songs that makes me think mass production is on his mind. Not to mention the title’s Chaplin reference.


  2. maynardgkrebs

    17 years ago

    Dylan’s show is a revelation. His research team comes up with some amazing stuff, and he is surprisingly funny. I believe XM has plans to release his shows on cd before Christmas.

  3. […] Mnookin, author of Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top, also opined on the Dylan/baseball […]

  4. […] Mnookin, author of Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top, also opined on the Dylan/baseball […]


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