Eric Byrnes Continues To Invade My Mental Space

One thing we can thank the current highest-paid beer-league softball player for is playing a key role in rehabilitating The Outfield's "Your Love."

After we attend a wedding and the wedding band pulls out the number at some point in its final set, I want to argue that former Major League Baseball player Eric Byrnes is singlehandedly responsible for this, but Brother Michael vehemently disagrees, and provides the Wikipedia proof. Yes, Michael, maybe Katy Perry did cover the song in 2007, but that was well before "I Kissed a Girl" catapulted her into the mainstream. And sure, the Decemberists have been covering it since 2005, but who is really paying attention to Decemberists covers? I mean, to the extent that we're hearing "Your Love" at a wedding — and not just a DJ's pick, but a song that a five- or six-piece band actually took the effort to learn — I blame Eric Byrnes.

I have to say that I really do like Eric Byrnes. Maybe you want to dislike Eric Byrnes, but it's not Eric Byrnes' fault that the management under Josh Byrnes (no relation) gave him so much money to play softball (think about that, Wilpons!) (Alright, so maybe it wasn't all Josh Byrnes' fault, but it's difficult to resist a gratuitous dig at the Mets' ownership).

There's a long list of loopy stuff Byrnes did during his career that might get tiresome but which in the rigidly conformist world of baseball seemed relatively endearing: Sliding headfirst into bases when there's no play; Flossing and surfing; Mustaches. He even blithely rode his bike through the clubhouse after forgetting to bunt during a suicide squeeze — of course he was released only a few days later; a "free spirit" is a cool thing — until he starts to suck. And after Eric Byrnes started to suck, he quickly became the highest-paid player in the history of beer-league softball.

One of the funnier things about Byrnes was his walk-up music. Circling back to the original point, Byrnes began the 2008 season by using The Outfield's "Your Love" as his walk-up music (though when he hit a slump, his teammates took matters into their own hands). And the clip he used wasn't the four measures of Summer of '69-ish fart guitar that opens the first 30 seconds of the song but rather that distinctive Alan and The Chipmunks-like first line: "Josie's on a vacation far away . . ."

I know, corny — "The Outfield," get it? Probably even cornier than "Disco Inferno," one of Byrne's previous picks: "Burn, baby burn," get it? But in a milieu where stuff like "Crazy Train" and "Big Pimpin'" is the normal fare, Eric Byrnes' walk-up music was kind of funny. (I'll admit that there are some other goofy songs on this list — did the Reds' Ryan Freel really walk up to "Tom's Diner"? Inexplicable! — but over and over it's stuff like "Slow Ride" or "Sweet Child o' Mine" or "Low Rider" . . . and I hope I go my whole life never again having to think about "Machine Head" — thank god Jeff Cirillo has retired.)

It sounds one of those half-baked arguments that I like to double down on — and it is! — but I'm actually curious: Were we hearing "Your Love" at a wedding because Eric Byrnes started playing it as his walk-up music in 2008? As far as I can tell, "Your Love" had no particular big boost in the way that, say, Trio's "Da Da Da" got a reprieve from the cutout bin of musical history from that VW ad. Even seven straight weekends of I Love the 80s marathons couldn't totally explain why a wedding band would choose to include "Your Love" in its set list.

I admit, it could be that it is a purely organic cultural zeitgeist — part Decemberists, part VH1, part aging demographic and part Byrnes — but if success has a thousand fathers, then rehabilitating "Your Love" should probably be pinned to one asshat. If so, then at least that's something for Byrnes' legacy.

The song itself is an odd choice for a wedding. Sure, it's "fun" to "dance" to, but once you take the lyrics into account, it's hard to justify its inclusion, since it seems to be about a creepy ne'er-do-well having an affair with an underage girl (we caught Adventureland the other night on cable, and without giving too much away, I'll report that "Your Love" is used more appropriately). (The wedding band, by the way, was awesome — the drummer was the lead singer, just like Peter Prescott . . . or Phil Collins.)

One thing I didn't realize was that not only were The Outfield baseball fans but they were actually English, as well. I guess it makes sense — English people seem to love to write creepy sexual subtexts into their pop songs. Their bio page is pretty great for the pictures alone. I don't think even East Williamsburg Industrial Business Zone subletters could bring themselves to wear those high-heeled boots lead singer Tony Lewis is showing off in the top photo there (the pair of shoes that figure so prominently and inexplicably in the foreground of the bottom photo, on the other hand, I feel like I've seen on the B62).

I do hope that Byrnes eventually returns as a commentator or something — he's actually fun to root for — when your team isn't paying him $11 million to play softball that is.

Posted: October 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Half-Baked Theory, Jukebox | Tags: , , ,