You Think You Know the Words?
Every time I watch a baseball game I find myself a bit angry. The degree of anger varies depending upon the circumstances of the game, the weather, the fans surrounding me, and of course; how well my team is playing.
One thing is always constant. I get a little upset every time I hear "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
This song, written by Jack Norworth in 1908 (the last time the Cubs won a World Series), is played nearly every day at just about every ball park across the world. Everyone stands up and sings along. I can only assume that people join in this tradition because they, just like Harry Caray, believe it to be the only song where they know all the words. All of those people in the stands, Harry Caray, and yes, even YOU, are WRONG!
The part we all sing is merely the chorus. There are at least two verses to the song, but who has ever heard them or bothered to sing them? The song was rewritten by Norworth in 1927 to update the lyrics to the verses, but the chorus remained the same.
Now I'm not all that upset that people don't sing any of the verses, though it does bug me a tad. No, the real reason I get angry is that the chorus to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" is ALWAYS sung with improper lyrics.
Think of it, the second-most sung tune in the world ("Happy Birthday" is easily the first) is always suing by people who are screwing up the lyrics. In fact, there are no fewer than THREE, sometimes FOUR times within the chorus where people sing the incorrect words.
Here's a little test for you. Without looking up the lyrics online, complete the following lines.
"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out ____ ___ _____.
Buy me some peanuts and _______ ____,
I don't care if I _____ get back.
___ __ root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."
How many of you wrote, "Take me out to the crowd?" All of you? WRONG! It is, "Take me out WITH the crowd." Not a major screw-up, but not what the author intended, nor is it grammatically correct to say "to the crowd". Moving on...
"Buy me some peanuts and WHAT? Did you say "Cracker Jacks?" Well then you'd be WRONG! The product in question, the product we're all so familiar with and have been eating in this country since 1893 (1896 with the brand name) is Cracker Jack. There's no "S" in Cracker Jack. You can't get Cracker Jacks anywhere. You can buy boxes of Cracker Jack, but you can't buy even one box of Cracker Jacks. By singing this line incorrectly you are not only denying Norworth the joy of hearing his song performed properly, but you are crapping on an institution, an icon of American culture. You people suck!
How about some more grammar lessons? "I don't care if I EVER get back?" FUCK NO! It is and always has been, "I don't care if I NEVER get back. Make your high school English teacher proud. Sing this line with not only the proper lyric, but the proper choice for good grammar. If you don't care if you never get back, that means you really don't care if you ever return to work, home, wherever you need to return. Never means NEVER. Ever means someday, somewhere, or sometime. You don't ever want to get back and to make certain that happens, you must not care if you NEVER get back.
Finally, and this one doesn't frost my nuts as much as the other mistakes, it is always "Let me root, root, root for the home team (or whatever team name you wan to insert)." It is not, "I will root...." It is not, "For it's root...." It is not simply, "Root, root root...." In fact it is not ever any of those choices. One could say it is NEVER any of those options.
Apologies to Jack Norworth, if not for the whole damned world butchering your song, then certainly for the pain of watching your very FIRST Major League Baseball game 67 years ago today (and nearly 40 years after writing Baseball's one true anthem) and being subjected to watching the Chicago Cubs lose to the Brooklyn Dodgers.