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David Olney

Tuesday, April 19, at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 713-528-5999.

"Anytime anyone asks me who my favorite music writers are, I say Mozart, Lightnin' Hopkins, Bob Dylan and Dave Olney. Dave Olney is one of the best songwriters I've ever heard -- and that's true. I mean that from my heart." -- Townes Van Zandt

"Townes must have had a drink or two when he said Olney was up there with Mozart. Olney's about as good as it gets when it comes to writin', but he don't sing like Mozart." -- Eric Taylor

And here's reason No. 527 why David Olney is a songwriting genius, and it's a seasonal one at that: his song "Baseball," which actually comes across as more of a play. Here's the scene: Olney assumes the roles of the batter, the pitcher and the announcer in a mock radio broadcast. It's the 1950s, and a young Red Sox phenom stands at the plate and faces down a hard-throwing Yankee hurler. The two archrival teams are entering the stretch run neck and neck. The Yankee fireballer uncorks a high hard one off the slugger's head, and as the batter crumples and pandemonium ensues on the field, the godlike announcer comments omnisciently (paraphrasing here): "He's finished in the big leagues! He'll never have any confidence at the plate ever again! And not only that, but so is the pitcher! His killer instinct is gone! They will both spend the rest of their days drinking cheap whiskey in seedy bars wishing this day had never come! Two great careers end in an instant! What is this? Baseball, or Greek tragedy?"

Yep, you can keep your "Centerfield" and even your "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." To me, this is the top baseball song of all time. And you can find out a few dozen of the hundreds of other proofs of its gruff-voiced author's genius at this show, his Mucky Duck debut, including some new ones off the fresh platter Migration.

 
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