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10/15/2007 03:03:00 PM

Best Songs About A Specific Athlete

Paul Simon.
Paul Simon performed 'Mrs. Robinson' at Yankee Stadium in 1999 during a tribute to Joe DiMaggio.
Jerry Cooke/SI
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com

So I was stuck on a cross-country flight the other night, my iPod on shuffle, when back-to-back came Public Enemy's Reggie Jax and Kanye West's Barry Bonds, two songs name for athletes (even if they aren't both specifically about athletes). This, hoever, got me thinking: What are the top five songs about specific athletes?

1. Hurricane by Bob Dylan: This song telling the story wrongfully imprisoned boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter not only exposed Carter's plight, but it helped raised money to get Carter a new trial.

2. Barry Bonds by Kanye West with Li'l Wayne: They compare their ability to crank out hits with that of Barry Bonds, although they don't seem to understand that Bonds isn't as consistent as he is powerful. Maybe they should've done a song called "Todd Helton."

3. Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel: Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? The song is about more than DiMaggio, but Joe D's role as a cultural touchstone has never been greater than it is here.

4. Dooley's Junkyard Dogs by James Brown: OK, so it's more about a coach (Vince Dooley) than a player, but when was the last time you saw James Brown perform at halftime of a college football game?

5. K.O.B.E. by Kobe Bryant with Tyra Banks: Kobe recorded a song about himself, but should we expect anything less?

What's the best song about an athlete? Let us know below…

Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
posted by SI.com | View comments |


Posted: October 15, 2007 3:31 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Who Let The Dogs Out"...That's about Mike Vick right?
Posted: October 15, 2007 3:46 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Song for Sonny Liston" by Mark Knopfler is a great biopic of a tragic boxer who had everything and threw it all away. Great song.
Posted: October 15, 2007 3:46 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Tough Guy by the Beastie Boys - With love, to Bill Laimbeer.
Posted: October 15, 2007 3:55 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Black Superman by Johnny Wakelin and the Kinshasha Band....about Muhummad Ali!
Posted: October 15, 2007 4:09 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
What about 'Be Like Mike' about Michael Jordan?
Posted: October 15, 2007 4:12 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Hey there Delilah - Delilah DiCrescenzo - Wimpy hit, but hot athlete.
Posted: October 15, 2007 4:19 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"I believe in Mike!" This has to qualify as a song because I bought the tape. (Yes before CD's and MP3's) That Gatorade commercial still give me the chills.
Posted: October 15, 2007 4:41 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I know it wasn't technically a song about himself but Shaq had a song that described his playing pretty accurately...the chorus says "do you want me to shoot it NOOOOOO do you want me to pass it NOOOOO do you want me to slam YEAHHHH"
G. Love and Special Sauce's "I-76"

"Charles Barkley dissed Larry Bird"
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Magic Johnson

m-a-g-i-c see you on the court
Posted: October 15, 2007 5:07 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Magic Johnson by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Posted: October 15, 2007 5:29 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Magic Johnson by the Chili Peppers! I can't believe you put a song by Kobe about himself above that one.
You NEED to hear the song "Christy" by Family Groove Company. It's a brilliant song about Christy Mathewson, but also about the glories of baseball past and the father-son bond embedded in the sport. You can hear it here: http://familygrooveco.com/music/03_christy.m3u

Here's the chorus:
" When Christy threw a no-no
Oh, let me tell ya little something about it.
Twas quite a feat at twenty two,
but it seemed as though he'd done it before…
and Connie Mack fell on his back,
said 'I sure wish he'd play for the A's'
and the crowd cheered, 'All Right Now!'
and they wondered, 'would he do it again?'"

Check the lyrics at http://familygrooveco.com/etc/lyrics/index.htm
Posted: October 15, 2007 6:57 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Boom Boom Mancini" by Warren Zevon
Not a bad list, but is not complete without:

John Daly . All my exes wear rolexs.......

John Daly, his ex's....an instant classic, right?
Posted: October 15, 2007 8:22 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Wayne Gretzky" by Goldfinger
Posted: October 15, 2007 9:27 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
gotta be "wayne gretzky" by goldfinger. "wayne gretzky, the only man id have sex with..." classic
Posted: October 15, 2007 9:38 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Clearly the best is "Willie, Micky, and The Duke."
"Lester Hayes" by Maroons (Lateef the Truthspeaker and Chief Excel)
Posted: October 16, 2007 1:07 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Piazza, New York Catcher" by Belle & Sebastian.
Posted: October 16, 2007 1:46 AM   by Anonymous da kid
"Bill Lee" By Warren Zevon
Posted: October 16, 2007 2:02 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Magic Johnson" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
Posted: October 16, 2007 2:33 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Oh, come on, how could you forget Magic Johnson by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers with all its double entendres?
Posted: October 16, 2007 3:17 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Magic Johnson" by the Chili Peppers should come in behind Dylan. Even a Sonic fan can admit it's a bitchen song. It would've been #1 if it was about GP.
Posted: October 16, 2007 6:48 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Willie, Mickey and The Duke (Talkin' Baseball)

You Tube Link:

Posted: October 16, 2007 7:00 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
What about "Say it ain't so joe please" on joe "shoeless" schumann? It isn't the greatest song on an athlete and his place in the fan's heart?
Posted: October 16, 2007 7:54 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
The Ballad of Wendel Clark - Rheostatics
Its gotta be, Basketball Jones.
I Love Mickey... by Teresa Brewer... about NYY #7...and even Yogi is mentioned in it...
Posted: October 16, 2007 8:32 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Catfish", a tribute to Catfish Hunter by Bob Dylan.
Posted: October 16, 2007 8:39 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
What Would Brian Boitano Do?
Posted: October 16, 2007 8:51 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Be Like Mike" the Gatorade song about Michael Jordan.
Posted: October 16, 2007 9:45 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Superbowl Shuffle" by the '85 Bears about, well, themselves.
Posted: October 16, 2007 9:46 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I'm going to go old school here..."I think I can Beat Mike Tyson" by Dj Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, came out in the late 80s.
Warren Zevon's Hockey song (Hit Me)
with a cameo from David Letterman.
It was written by Warren Zevon and Mitch Albom and is the funniest song about hockey. "Buddys real talent was beating people up, his heart wasn't in it but the crowd ate it up"
Posted: October 16, 2007 10:32 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"The Ballad of Eddie Klepp" by Chuck Brodsky. (Klepp was the first (only?) white guy to play in the Negro Leagues.)
Posted: October 16, 2007 10:39 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Mrs. Robinson has nothing to do with Joe D. Sure his name is mentioned, but it is strickly metaphorical.

I'll nominate Sweet Lew by Pearl Jam, a song about Lew Alcindor, aka Kareem.

lyrics: http://home.att.net/~chuckayoub/sweetlew.html
Posted: October 16, 2007 11:06 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Also "Hit Somebody (The Hockey Song)" By Warren Zevon, even though Buddy may bot be real, it is a tribute to all those old-time enforceres out there (Bob Probert, Stu Grimson...)
Posted: October 16, 2007 11:07 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Fifty Mission Cap" by the Tragically Hip, tells the story of Toronto MAple Leal Bill Barilko and hime dissapearing on a fishing trip the summer after he scored the Stanley Cup winning goal with a broken ankle.
How could you leave off the most famous song of them all:

"Be Like Mike" for the Great Air Michael Jordan
Posted: October 16, 2007 11:14 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"I wanna be like Mike" - Gatorade jingle about Jordan
Posted: October 16, 2007 11:35 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
1941 Les Brown - Joe gets more than just a line from Paul Simon!

He started baseball's famous streak
That's got us all aglow
He's just a man and not a freak,
Joltin' Joe DiMaggio.

Joe, Joe DiMaggio
We want you on our side
Posted: October 16, 2007 11:48 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
1956 Teresa Brewer 'I Love Mickey" (Mantle)
Posted: October 16, 2007 12:04 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Magic Johnson by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
Posted: October 16, 2007 12:04 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
How do you pass up "Roy's Keen" by Morrissey about Roy Keane?
Posted: October 16, 2007 12:24 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Sawyer Brown's The Nebraska Song is about Brook Berringer who was a highly touted backup to Tommie Frazier at Nebraska who died in a plane crash two days before the NFL draft
Posted: October 16, 2007 12:46 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Fly Eddie Fly" by Eddie the Eagle Edwards.
Posted: October 16, 2007 12:54 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Please! "Magic Johnson" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is easily the greatest song ever about a specific athlete.
Pretty much anything off of Shaq's cd "Diesel". He raps in a very flattering manner about himself
Posted: October 16, 2007 1:08 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
John Hiatt's "The Tiki Bar is Open", mourning the death of Dale Earnhardt.
Posted: October 16, 2007 1:11 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
The Anna Kournikova song by Binge, that's all over her E! True Hollywood Story, is a decent song.
Posted: October 16, 2007 1:12 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Michael Jordan" by Five For Fighting
Posted: October 16, 2007 1:21 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Anna, Anna Kournikova........... I really wanna know ya
Posted: October 16, 2007 1:31 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"50 Mission Cap" by The Tragically Hip...This song is about Bill Barilko, a hockey player whose final goal won the Toronto Maple Leafs the Stanley Cup. Four months and 5 days after he scored the winning goal to clinch Toronto's sixth Stanley Cup, Barilko boarded a Fairchild 24, single-engine plane piloted by his friend Henry Hudson. He was returning home to Timmins from a fishing trip on James Bay. The plane vanished between Rupert House and Timmins. No trace of Hudson, Barilko or the Fairchild was discovered for 11 years, despite massive search efforts. The Maple Leafs were so distraught and unwilling to accept the tragedy that Barilko's equipment remained in his usual locker room stall at the opening of the 1951 fall training camp. Rumors began circulating that Barilko, of Russian decent, had defected to the Soviet Union to teach his skills to young Soviet players. Finally on June 9, 1962, bush pilot Gary Fields came upon the wreck of a Fairchild 24, approximately 100 kilometers north of Cochrane, Ontario. Barilko was finally laid to rest in Timmins; the year that the Leafs won their first Stanley Cup since his disappearance 11 years earlier.
ther best song about a specific athlete is the Yaz song by Jess Cain on the impossible dream album about the 1967 boston red sox
Posted: October 16, 2007 1:52 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Belfast Boy by Don Fardon - it's about soccer genius George Best.
Posted: October 16, 2007 2:09 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Eye of the Tiger... Tiger Woods... Oh-so obvious. lol
Posted: October 16, 2007 2:21 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Magic Johnson" - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Not just Magic though - all Lakers get a mention even AC Green - slams so hard he breaks your TV screen.
Posted: October 16, 2007 2:38 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
What about THe Red Hot Chili Peppers song about Magic Johnson?
Posted: October 16, 2007 2:48 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Chalk Dust - The Umpire Strikes Back" by The Brat. An amusing ditty that was a minor hit in the UK at the time a certain American tennis player, known for abusing umpires, was at the height of his career.
Posted: October 16, 2007 3:12 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Who Killed Davey Moore?, great folk favourite of Pete Seeger, written by some guy named Bob Dylan. On a lighter note, there was a fun piece called Clear the Track, Here's Comes Shack, written not about a basketball superstar but about Toronto Maple Leafs goon Eddie Shack.
Posted: October 16, 2007 3:14 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Any and all of the players in "Talking Baseball".
Posted: October 16, 2007 3:25 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Joltin' Joe DiMaggio by Ben Homer and Alan Courtney(performed by Les Brown Orchestra)
Posted: October 16, 2007 4:27 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"im back" by terrell owens.. much better then kobe's song about himself
Posted: October 16, 2007 5:05 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Free Bird" by Lynard Skynard

It was loosely based on Larry Bird
Posted: October 16, 2007 5:48 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I'd like to nominate another Christy Mathewson song; "Matty", by Dave Frishberg.
Live Like You Were Dying, by Tim McGraw, about the Phillies closer Tug McGraw (his father who recently died) is the best song ever about an athlete. Watch the music video for it.
Posted: October 17, 2007 12:14 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
WOW, how can you leave off "Song for Sonny Liston" by Mark Knopfler. The whole story is there. Well told, great ong!
Posted: October 17, 2007 5:41 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Ty Cobb" by Soundgarden. Ty was not a nice guy. Interesting use of a banjo in a rock song to boot.
Posted: October 17, 2007 9:11 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
What about the Mark Teixeira song, performed by two Auburn students on youtube?
It's actually really funny and is a great tribute to a great player.
Posted: October 17, 2007 9:20 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
definitely wayne gretzky by Goldinger, how could you not put that on the list?
Posted: October 17, 2007 10:21 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I figured I should definitely add this at least one, maybe 2 more times. 'Magic Johnson' by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Posted: October 17, 2007 10:45 AM   by Anonymous Benjamin
"Lester Hayes" by Maroons

It's a song by a Bay-Area rap group about giving it your all, 110%, at all times. What better metaphor than the hard-hitting Raiders DB?

"Shining sun, burn like sunrays, stick-em for days, Lester Hayes."
Posted: October 17, 2007 10:58 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
That Zap song about Kareem Abdul Jabbar... "The Captain..."
Posted: October 17, 2007 11:07 AM   by Anonymous Barty
Two suggestions, first "Ty Cobb" by Soundgarden. Lyrics at http://www.lyricsdepot.com/soundgarden/ty-cobb.html. Can't print them here or I'd never get posted.

Second, "Wayne Gretzky Rocks" By The Pursuit of Happiness. Lyrics at http://www.azlyrics.us/17276. The site says the song's by a band called The Arrogant Worms but the Arrogant Worms website notes it on their list of songs they never wrote. Weird.
Posted: October 17, 2007 11:45 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Oh I love Mickey" about Mickey Mantle by Teresa Brewer. Mickey actually spoke on the record from the 1950's and as I recall so did Yogi Berra.
Posted: October 17, 2007 12:27 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
What about the Joltin Joe Dimaggio song????
Posted: October 17, 2007 12:28 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Joe..Joe..DiMaggio...we want him on our side!!!
Posted: October 17, 2007 12:41 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Rapid Roy" by Jim Croce
He "too much too believe" You know!!
Posted: October 17, 2007 1:08 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Not well known song or artist, but a song called "Monica" by Dan Bern off his album "Fifty Eggs". Not so much about Monica but about his reaction to her being stabbed.
Posted: October 17, 2007 1:09 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Boxing" by Ben Folds Five, written from Muhammad Ali's perspective in an imagined conversation with Howard Cosell.
Posted: October 17, 2007 1:09 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Tiger Woods" by Dan Bern.
Posted: October 18, 2007 7:01 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
"Spirit of America" by the Beach Boys about Craig Breedlove.
Posted: October 19, 2007 4:09 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
'Fifty Mission Cap' by the Tragically Hip recounts the stranger-than-fiction story of Toronto Maple Leaf Bill Barilko. I personally cant stand hockey but this is a great song.
Posted: October 20, 2007 1:15 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
You guys missed it!

"Penalty on the Flyer's Dave Schultz. Two minutes for hooking, two minutes for high sticking, five minutes for fighting..."

*rink piano rolls in over announcer*

Baby, how long
Can you keep me in the penalty box?
Baby, I'm wrong
But it's lonely in the penalty box.
I know I broke the rules.
But rules are broken by fools!
Baby, how long
Can you keep me in the penalty box.
Posted: October 20, 2007 6:52 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
How about "Deacon Blues" (Steely Dan) - 'they call Alabama the Crimson Tide' ? about a whole team/school rather than one athlete, but still it was a hit song in its own right as opposed to most listed here.
what about the Mark Teixeira song on youtube. check it out, just search, mark teixeira tribute.
Posted: November 11, 2007 8:14 AM   by Anonymous Eric H
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee"

Muhammad Ali
Posted: December 18, 2007 3:02 PM   by Anonymous willee
"Must Be the Money"
by Deion Sanders
Posted: December 18, 2007 3:06 PM   by Anonymous willee
"Must Be the Money"
by Deion Sanders
Posted: December 24, 2007 10:26 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
warriors code by dropkick murphys about mickey ward
i can't believe i,m the first to mention "the ballad of Archie who"-ole midd qb archie manning
Posted: December 26, 2007 2:31 AM   by Anonymous mizzouman
"Willy Mo 4 Prezident"--a rap masterpiece written by Mizzou's All-American safety William Moore
Posted: January 3, 2008 1:57 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
How I Beat Shaq by Aaron Carter
Posted: March 28, 2008 5:17 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Basketball Jones......priceless
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