Monday, April 2, 2012

Let the Music (and the Bat) Do the Talking

"Cheese cake baby, maybe if I take another bite; I'm a real fat city, I'm an aero delight. Threw out my pipe, and my alkaline. Got a squeaky clean body, and a dirty mind. I'm a real fine dancer, I'll be cuttin' the rug. Got a brand new baby, she's my brand new drug. I got one for the money, two for the show, three for my honey, and four to let you know I....Let the Music Do the Talking..." ~ Aerosmith "Let the Music Do the Talking"

 We will be celebrating two birthdays in the next week and a half. My youngest son turns 17 today, while our baby-my daughter- will turn 11 next week. Since our son is a junior, we've been having an ongoing discussion with him about the future: what do you want to do? How can your gifts and interests serve a better purpose- one of vocation, of a calling?

  When I was my daughter's age, all I wanted to do was play for the Atlanta Braves, just like my childhood sports hero Dale Murphy. By the time I was my son's age those aspirations had grown to be a guitar god like Joe Perry of Aerosmith (well, actually Eddie Van Halen). Could I have picked two other people who are such polar opposites?

  Everyone knows about Dale Murphy: he's got a squeaky clean image, an example of humility, and although people debate whether or not his playing career merits a Hall of Fame induction-there's no question that he's a Hall of Famer when it comes to being a nice guy. You would probably have a hard time finding a former teammate who had anything negative to say about Murph. Years after his playing days ended, he even served as President of the Boston, Massachusetts Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.

  Then there's Mr. Style, Joe Perry. Drugs. Booze. Women. Plenty of each. Joe is brash, and it shows in the music he and the band produces. His playing is full of bravado- built upon bluesy licks and nasty riffs. And believe it or not, after leaving Aerosmith in 1979, he employed a singer by the name of Ralph Mormon in his Joe Perry Project (I swear I'm not making this up!). He has a history of personal conflicts with the face of the band, Steven Tyler. They're Boston's Bad Boys. And unlike Murphy, they're already in the Hall-albeit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

  I'm now forty-two, soon three, and if I can someday take part in the Braves fantasy camp, I guess I can put an asterisk next to my vocational dreams. I once upon a time recorded a demo tape with my old band, Mr. Bones.

   In the mail today was a birthday card for my son, as well as a card for the old man- this 1989 Topps Baseball Talk Dale Murphy. I never knew it even existed until a few weeks ago, when I saw it on eBay. After watching it for some time I decided to pick it up. Unfortunately, I might never know what's recorded on it. Being a child of the 70s and 80s, I at one time had a turn table (or two), but that's no longer the case. Perhaps it's an interview with Murph. Maybe it's some guy with MLB talking to a Topps rep. Like some sort of pre-existing podcast.
  With its resurgence in popularity today, the turntable is once again a viable option for my listening pleasure- only I won't be pursuing one for the sake of listening to a baseball card. Vinyl is for guys like Joe Perry-not Dale Murphy. The only record I want to see attached to Murph are the ones he never attains.

  "Let the Music Do the Talking" originally appeared on Joe Perry's solo project, whose album was similarly titled, "Let the Music Do the Talking." It later appeared on Aerosmith's reunion album-1985's Done With Mirrors. While critics panned it, I think it's a very solid release-classic Aerosmith. And while I won't say it was the end of the band, I didn't think the band was ever the same afterwards. I pretty much lost interest in the band with subsequent releases.

This card of Dale Murphy from 1989 represents the same kind of crisis to the story. The Atlanta icon got traded to Philadelphia, of all places, the next season. No, my interest in him didn't disappear, but his production continued to decline. And before long he was done.

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