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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Heartbreak is essential to sad country songs, and whose heart has been stomped on more than a career minor leaguer's? Brown, who wrote the tune, and Keen team up for a bluegrassy duet about an aging ballplayer who has spent 20 years in the bushes and is ready to call it quits. His cousin wants to fix him up, and there's a pitch-perfect touch of desperation, pride and hope as the ballplayer says about the potential blind date, "she even saw me play once."
Jack Johnson, 2001
The celebrated surfer dude specializes in laid-back acoustic rock, and even when his subject is football there's a gentle vibe. This is the kind of pickup game in the mud that everyone remembers fondly: "Rain is pourin', touchdown scorin'/Keep on rollin', never borin'." But the memories are balanced by a bittersweet chorus that reminds us that good times like this don't last forever.
26 DREAM TEAM
Michael Franti, the rabble-rousing leader of the hip-hop group Spearhead, mixes up a rollicking potion that's one part basketball and two parts black-liberation philosophy. He points out that while the country was embracing the Olympic Dream Team in '92 there were also riots in L.A. over the beating of Rodney King: "Brothas on the street/And everyone is scared of ya/So how could 10 Africans represent America?" So Franti assembles his own fantasy squad of black heroes. Huey Newton is the shooting guard " 'cause he was extra hard." Marcus Garvey rebounds and outlet passes to Nat Turner, " 'cause he can turn the corner." Angela Davis is posting up, and then there's the ultimate sixth man: "Dr. King/We bring him in in a pinch."
27 MUNICH AIR DISASTER 1958
Think about the shock it would be in this country if an NFL or MLB team's plane went down midseason. That's what happened to English football when Manchester United's plane crashed during takeoff on an icy runway during a refueling stop after Man U played Red Star Belgrade in the 1958 European Cup. Over half the players were killed, and others were injured too severely to play again. The overwrought emotion Morrissey brings to the song makes a larger point about fandom and the tragedy of athletes dying young.