Look no further than the confines of AT&T park Cubs fans…and you’ll find that winning breeds awful.
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Over the weekend, Chicago Cubs fans were acting very un-Chicago-Cubs-fan-like.
Instead of digging fingernails into palms at every strikeout, booing at every perceived balk from the opposing pitcher and tearing out what’s left of their Midwestern shocks, they looked on, relatively relaxed and expectant—similar to a father whose wife is about to have their fourth child. Been there. Done that. What else ya got?
It seemed a strange repose for a Cubs fan. This IS the playoffs and you still ARE the Cubs after all. Right? RIGHT?
My sister and her family, visiting Chicago over the last 72 hours for the marathon, were also somewhat surprised at the, um, attitude of the heartland’s finest. Giants fans transplanted into the eye of the blue storm, they arrived hoping to get some aftermarket tickets for Friday’s NLDS opener. But $800-plus for the unfriendly confines of the Wrigley bleachers had them ducking into a sports bar instead.
I think they were all expecting some kind of latter-day version of Bill Swerski’s Superfans, convivial, red Izod cable-knit sweater-wearing, pleasantly mustachioed Midwesterners (think: Illinois’ new favorite son Ken Bone) with their hopeful lilts and Griswold In youthful exuberance and ever-challenged hope. Indeed, a few years ago in March upon arrival at the threshold of the Cubs’ new spring training facility in Mesa, my buddies and I were greeted by Cubs fans, lacquered in more sunscreen than an albino at a nude beach handing us cans of Old Style like they were Tootsie Pops on Halloween. They were positively charming and gracious and, well, just happy to be watching baseball.
Fast forward to the fall of 2016 and now there’s the expectant coronation of a the Second Epsteinian Dynasty, and it may well come true. Wouldn’t that be swell for these Cubbies faithful to say that while great grandpa, one of Eliot Ness’s henchmen, does the 4 a.m. drunk spins for eternity in his grave that you, the interloper, the come-latelies only had to wait a few decades to taste sweet victory, hold the catsup?
I’ve often written that Chicago is the last “unspoiled” and reasonable large-scale American metro. San Francisco is out-of-touch and full of horrible broriffic ideas and terminally overlooked homeless. New York apparently is where evil candidates spawn and a two bedroom in the Village is playground only for the hedge fund class. Los Angeles has always been ridiculous and impacted but now it’s super ridiculous and over-impacted. So that leaves the monster of the Midway and home to everyone’s favorite mostly delay-free hub, Chicago.
Well, as rents and average home costs shoot up like wine bars on the gentrified North Side, Chicago’s attitudes are also changing. As new Chicago moves from an image of bloated Belushi to streamlined Chance the Rapper, its mass appeal becoming appealing for the masses, something great certainly will get lost in translation.
Speaking of—I get it, I get it. you’ve got Bill Murray and who doesn’t love Bill Murray? That’s all fine and good and Murray is great, but Cubs fans are all starting to come into lockstep looking like a bunch of bloviated bros taking selfies every three pitches, chatting up what they saw on the Chive, still wearing white-seamed jeans and looking almost, um, smug at the simple prospect of winning.
Though he’s become a pariah of legend, I saw nary a die-hard Bartman in the stands Friday or Saturday. Not one true Chicagoan huddled in his turtleneck and preparing to use it like an actual turtle does, waiting for the other sneaker to hit the pavement on Addison, Nerf-orange headphones on, taking in the game on WBBM and keeping score on his brought-from-home scorecard.
No Chicago, you are quickly becoming douchey like the rest of us—maybe moreso because you didn’t start with much. The only thing that can save you now…is another dose of disappointment.
Embrace it. Even if it’s for a few more weeks, revel in being lovable losers. It’s your birthright after all.
Part of me thinks it’s also that our country is simply turning into a nation of fucking dickheads, but winning definitely exacerbates it. Just look around AT&T tonight for game three. I imagine fewer than five percent of the fans in attendance ever attended a game at Candlestick. The only one who has actual proof will be playing shortstop. I give you diehard Brandon Crawford.
As far as the watching of the game goes, I’m going to keep the mute button floating across my screen on the FS1 team because, well, Joe Fucking Buck, who I’m sure will find a way to blame Bonds on the José Fernández tragedy this go-around.
Instead, I’ll be spinning Toto IV on the streaming audios.
After the success of their self-titled debut, Toto struggled to swim up river back to mainstream success on their next two albums, Hydra and Turn Back. Columbia Records was about to drop them for a key of Bolivian Yeyo and a handle of Cuervo. It was up to Toto IV to rescue Steve Lukather, David Paich, Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams from pending careers in advertising or TV score production.
The album is a relationship album, but references not only the travails and triumph of romantic encounters, but explores, almost to a dangerously self-revealing extent, the impact a relationship can have on those around you, and even turn into something of a vice. How one breakup or mishap, in other words, can ripple into the next two or three folks (or things) to come around after.
We are all products of what and who came before us and left an imprint. Consequently, we leave those same footprints in the untracked fields of fresh snow of others. Though this is not hallowed or untrammeled ground for a rock album to mine, but no other band has done it so succinctly, in such an organized 10-track fashion since…and probably not before (though the Rolling Stones’ 1971 scoundrel opus Sticky Fingers came close and could be something of a companion piece/album to watch game 5 to should it go that far.)
It is both hopeful and harrowing and takes you on a mini-journey through all your greatest triumphs, worst stumbles and otherwise never-again-muttered mistakes of living and trying to do the best you can with others.
Win or lose, we’re all in this together more than we think. Toto IV especially helps me remember that.
Below, a track-by-track reason why:
- Rosanna: Toto lead singer David Paich wrote the opening track from Toto IV. Paich said the song is based on an amalgam of women he knew and or, um, “dated’ but the band as a joke said it was based on Rosanna Arquette who was dating keyboard player Steve Porcaro at the time. A rare first-song-off-the-record mega-hit, Rosanna won the Record of the Year Grammy Awards in the 1983 presentations and was nominated for the Song of the Year award The song Rosanna peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks, behind two songs, “Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League and “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. Making that the absolute last time the Hot 100 was fucking so right on. Meet you all the way, meet you all the way.
- Make Believe: Make Believe reminds me of being on vacation. It’s like a three-minute-43-second mini-vacation. Only it’s like vacation never is. Vacation is usually barely missed flights and forgetting to pack something and worrying that you’re paying too much all the time. This is like when you see a couple walking on a Sandals beach on TV holding hands with the sun setting through their fingertips and you’re like, yeah, that’s vacation and THIS is the song. Probably one of the more underrated songs on the album in its bittersweetness. It reached number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 but will always be number one in my book. Also, I don’t expect much, but if anyone ever invited me to their beach house or mountain cabin and I got there and they offered me a beer and a quick embrace, I’d expect this song to be playing in the background. Who said the crimson moon doesn’t shine/Where do people go when they’re lookin’ for that one of a kind.
- I Won’t Hold You Back: Fuck man. I just realized I’m going to be watching this over the Giants and Cubs. And this song is fucking brutal, especially while watching fall baseball. There’s something so very final feeling about watching the playoffs. This could well be the Giants’ last game of the season. And though I won’t even pretend I’ll miss all this #evenyear bullshit, there’s something about what we’ve got coming up,
one ofthe most uncertain and potentially devastating presidential election in this country’s history and all the pending wars and protests and recessions and, well, just general discourse to follow. “Hold You Back” is a song that reminds me of the part in any relationship (lovers, friends, job…a dysfunctional go-around with food or alcohol) that we all have where we know something’s over or at least is about to change, and yet you’re bargaining for it to stay the same. Fuck, I may have to skip this one in the early innings. To think about the years that you were mine/Time can erase the love we shared/But it gives me time to realize just how much you cared.
- Good for You: OK, we’re back. This to me is the Friday afternoon beers, two buddies are about to arrive in town and you see a couple people you know that you actually like track. Though the evening may end in disaster and a cruel morning is inevitable, there just sometimes seems to be promise in the immediate future. Like for a moment you can go anywhere, drink as much as you want, and there’s no chance, none, of you losing your phone. If the Giants can notch a run in the first, I’m turning this up to at least six. How much will a smile, you satisfy/Stars gonna shine, the way that you feel/So there is no reason, I wonder why.
- It’s a Feeling: The only track on the album with the writing and vocals credited to, yep, Rosanna Arquette’s ex-bf Steve Porcaro. This is perhaps the most cautiously alluring (think Steely Dan) track of the album. Cozy and familiar-sounding upon first listen. If you pass out on a couch with a lit cigarette in your hand, this is the song that will be playing when the smoke alarm wakes you up. Such beautiful keys here and a haunting melody that speaks to mortality. It also makes the listener question whether this is the end of something: It’s a feeling, I don’t belong here/But a man’s on the outside looking in, wondering who’s in his old armchair.
- Afraid of Love: This song probably should be in some opening credits of a movie where the protagonist takes his duffel bag full of dreams on a bus with a one-way ticket to the big city. The song emerges into chorus as he rubs the fitful bus sleep from his eyes and looks out at the city skyline, emergent in fresh daylight, as impossible to conquer yet attainable as today. Such tight licks here, such promise…and yet, (warning for Cubs fans) impending heartbreak seems to be lurking around the next turn. Never been afraid of, never been afraid of love ’til I met you/Ooh, yes you say.
- Lovers in the Night: Might be the only track on the album that’s discongruous with the Toto IV story arc: Hope, love, loss and hope again. This slight interlude is more or less a stop-and-smell-the-roses moment that feels like the song nobody could leave out. Strangely, it’s a tune that’s really about vulnerability and what’s going to happen after a potential partner discovers that you’re human …and that your version of human simply might not be good enough. She’ll have you wishing that you had her come your way to shine.
- We Made It: A couple buddies of mine got into an argument recently that this would make a good wedding song, but then decided that this is more of a 25th anniversary song. How many times do we put false finish lines in front of ourselves just to celebrate some milestone only to find that you have to get up the next day and keep going. This is about waking up, win or lose, and continuing down that road…because you can and because not every tomorrow is guaranteed. If we’re clever, we’ll put it together, ’cause it may be forever.
- Waiting for Your Love: It may be too late into the album, but this, the penultimate track, definitely goes away from adult contemporary tropical hotel lobby check-in rock to a little more bluesy riff and almost into Boz Scaggs-meets-Bee Gees turf. Think about the notion this song bellows out about being able to start over right at the end. It’s a complete reboot at the wrong time, which is curiously, the exact right one. Look, forget your pride, she might kiss as you’re like even tide/Song, be in her heart, especially when we’re apart/Love, be by my side, ’cause if she leaves there ain’t no place to hide.
- Africa: What the FUCK Toto?!? The greatest song of all time as the last track. Who the fuck does that? Toto does, that’s who. Number one on the Billboard hot 100 and nobody has ever written a better, more complex pop track. In the words of Paich: “On ‘Africa’ you hear a combination of marimba with GS 1. The kalimba is all done with the GS 1; it’s six tracks of GS 1 playing different rhythms. I wrote the song on CS-80, so that plays the main part of the entire tune. So when we were doing ‘Africa’ I set up a bass drum, snare drum and a hi-hat, and Lenny Castro set up right in front of me with a conga. We looked at each other and just started playing the basic groove. …The backbeat is on 3, so it’s a half-time feel, and it’s 16th notes on the hi-hat. Lenny started playing a conga pattern. We played for five minutes on tape, no click, no nothing. We just played. And I was singing the bass line for ‘Africa’ in my mind, so we had a relative tempo. Lenny and I went into the booth and listened back to the five minutes of that same boring pattern. We picked out the best two bars that we thought were grooving, and we marked those two bars on tape…” Yeah, holy fucking shit, that’s some serious musicianing going on. But paying attention to intricacies is how you build a monster. If Patrick Nagel fucking painted songs, this would be it. Also, the album ENDS on the most brilliant pop track of the late 20th century, which does nothing but give me hope. Till tomorrow or next year Giants. Doesn’t matter when, you will ...grow restless, longing for some solitary company/I know that I must do what’s right/As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.