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If You Haven't Heard It, You Should: Sports Songs

Updated on July 6, 2015
In Jim Croce's short life, he released three solo albums and a fourth album with his wife - under the name Jim and Ingrid Croce. His last studio album was released in December 1973, months after his untimely death.
In Jim Croce's short life, he released three solo albums and a fourth album with his wife - under the name Jim and Ingrid Croce. His last studio album was released in December 1973, months after his untimely death. | Source

Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy)

Tragedy struck on September 20, 1973 when influential singer/songwriter Jim Croce was killed in a plane crash in Louisiana. But, despite his brief career, he left an indelible mark in contemporary folk/pop circles with songs like "Time In A Bottle", "Photographs and Memories", "Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels)", and "Bad Bad Leroy Brown".

Croce started out on his own at first, but then collaborated with his wife, Ingrid . They released an album together in 1969. By 1972, his wife was expecting and he released his second solo album.

Along with the title track and the aforementioned songs, the album You Don't Mess Around With Jim included a song about a stock car driver, "Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy)". Rapid Roy was not released as a single, but it stands as a great example of what Croce was capable of.

Croce toured extensively after the release of the album and would go on to release another called Life and Times the next year. He was only 30 years old when he passed away, but his songs are still receiving radio airplay (and now online airplay) all across the world, especially in the United States.

I Love NASCAR

Imagine if Weird Al Yankovic did country songs exclusively. You'd have Barry Poole or as his fans know him, Cledus T. Judd. Since 1995, Judd has released 11 studio albums with titles such as I Stoled This Record, Just Another Day In Parodies, Bipolar and Proud, and Did I Shave My Back For This?

Judd has released country parodies such as "(She's Got A Butt) Bigger Than The Beatles" (a parody of a Joe Diffie song), "My Cellmate Thinks I'm Sexy" (a parody of a Kenny Chesney song), and a parody of Toby Keith's song "I Love This Bar".

Judd's parody song "I Love NASCAR" still remains his biggest country chart success and, as you'll see in the video, he even got Keith to join in on the tune. His last four album releases have made it into the top 20 on the Billboard Comedy Album chart. Three of those four made it into the top 10 comedy albums on that chart.

Richard "Cheech" Marin and Thomas Chong first met in the late 1960's.
Richard "Cheech" Marin and Thomas Chong first met in the late 1960's. | Source

Basketball Jones featuring Tyrone Shoelaces

In late 1973, the comedy duo of Cheech and Chong released the album Los Cochinos. Included on the album was the track "Basketball Jones" - an ode to a fictional character Tyrone Shoelaces (played by Cheech) and his love of basketball. The song is a parody of The Brighter Side of Darkness' song "Love Jones". The video clip you see is an animated promotional video made for the song.

There are a number of famous voices and talents in the recordings. Ronnie Spector (of the Ronettes), Darlene Love, and Michelle Phillips (from the Mamas and the Papas) were the cheerleaders that we're called on to sing by Tyrone. Former Beatle George Harrison played guitar. Friend of the Beatles, artist Klaus Voorman played bass. Billy Preston, who has been referred to as the "Fifth Beatle", played the organ, while singer/songwriter Carole King played electric piano on the tune as well.

Almost a year after Basketball Jones' release, the comedy duo would score its biggest chart success with "Earache My Eye", which would become a top ten hit.

All The Way

Some celebrities are bandwagon sports fans, while others are hardcore and loyal fans. To be a fan of the Chicago Cubs takes true loyalty, especially since the team has won a World Series title since 1908. Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder is a true Cubs fan. So, when Hall of Fame first baseman Ernie Banks asked Vedder to write a song in tribute to the team, he didn't hesitate. The Windy City anthem speaks of the hope inside the heart of a Cubs fan that knows the team will win another World Series someday.

Vedder is from Evanston, Illinois, which is a short drive (about 10-12 miles north) from Chicago. In the video above, if you wait until the end of the song, you will see an appearance from the now deceased Ernie Banks. He passed away in January of this year.

Bob Dylan has recorded over 30 studio albums in his long, illustrious career.
Bob Dylan has recorded over 30 studio albums in his long, illustrious career. | Source

Warning: Mature Language

Hurricane

"Here comes the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin' that he never done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world"

Bob Dylan penned "Hurricane" along with songwriter Jacques Levy in 1975 after reading professional boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter's book The Sixteenth Round (Back then, boxers fought up to 15 rounds in a fight, as opposed to the maximum 12 they fight now). The song eviscerates the injustice Carter faced in 1960's Paterson, New Jersey, which led to Carter being wrongfully imprisoned for 20 years.

At the time it was written, Dylan had been years removed from his social and political writings of the 1960's such as "Only A Pawn In Their Game", "Masters of War", and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll." Clearly, Dylan still had the gift of writing impressively rich and powerful lyrics about social injustice despite the distance from the much more socially conscious 1960's.

"Hurricane" brought much more public attention to Carter's case. But after he was initially convicted of murder in 1966, he was again convicted of the same crime in 1976. It would take 10 more years before his conviction was thrown out. The state of New Jersey could have re-tried him in 1986, but they elected not to. Carter would eventually go on to fight for other wrongfully convicted prisoners.

Their most popular songs

Artist/Band
Biggest Chart Hit
Jim Croce
Time In A Bottle
Cledus T. Judd
I Love NASCAR
Cheech and Chong
Earache My Eye
Eddie Vedder
(with Pearl Jam) Last Kiss
Bob Dylan
Like A Rolling Stone
The Tragically Hip
Ahead By A Century
The Tragically Hip were added to Canada's Walk of Fame in 2002 and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2005.
The Tragically Hip were added to Canada's Walk of Fame in 2002 and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2005. | Source

Fifty Mission Cap

Back in World War II, pilots that flew over 50 missions for the Air Force were given a military cap to wear. The fifty mission cap has no real connection to Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Bill Barilko, except in this Canadian classic from the highly respected Tragically Hip.

Barilko scored a goal in overtime to clinch the 1951 Stanley Cup for his Maple Leafs. Months later, he and a friend flew to a small town in Quebec for a fishing trip. On the way back home, the plane was lost. Some didn't want to believe that something happened to Barilko since no body was found. But, in 1962, a helicopter pilot discovered the wreckage. Interestingly enough, the Maple Leafs would win their first Stanley Cup since 1951 - after Barilko's body was laid to rest.

The Tragically Hip have been going strong since 1983. Nine of their 12 studio albums have reached number one on the Canadian album charts. They have also won numerous Juno awards, Canada's equivalent to the Grammy.

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