Let me start by saying that I’m a hardcore Red Sox fan who is still celebrating Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. I don’t follow many other sports, though I’m certainly excited to watch as much of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games as I can. But before that, and before baseball season starts, there’s one other tiny little sporting event that I’m planning on watching, and that’s Super Bowl LII.
Some people prepare for the big game by praying and staying true to time-worn superstitions like wearing their threadbare Pats shirt or tattered cap. Others spend the pre-game hours in the kitchen whipping up monster batches of wings, chili and nachos. As for me, I’ll spend some time leading up to kickoff listening to some carefully chosen music. It’s just what I do.
I don’t know much about the Patriots, though I do hope that Gronkowski fella has recovered from his concussion and is able play. I also hope that Brady guy does his job. When I hear people speak about the New England Patriots, I often hear the word “dynasty” thrown around, and my mind always goes to the ’80s nighttime drama with Blake and Crystal Carrington and the evil Alexis. But that’s just me.
Anyway, since the New England Patriots are facing the Philadelphia Eagles, I thought my strategy should be to compile a list of songs that are about Philly and Boston, and by artists who are from those two cities. Spoiler alert: Boston wins by a landslide on the music front, although Philly does have its shining songs and artists. Also, let’s be honest, the Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, and as a Red Sox fan who thought I’d never see them win a World Series after their 86-year drought, I truly do feel Eagles fans’ pain. And even though Siri just told me that she thinks the Pats are going to win by five points, anything can happen, and I am confident that should our beloved Pats lose the game, we’ll get over the loss with grace and congratulate Eagles fans because we’re classy. Right? OK then, onto the music.
The three best Philadelphia-related songs, in my opinion, are Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen and, the mother of them all, “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from Rocky, by Bill Conti because that classic film is, of course, set in Philly. Some day, I am going to run up the steps to the east entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and nerd out.
As for artists, as you can imagine, the list of Philly-based acts is long, and most I’m not familiar with, but there are three standouts: Hall & Oates, The Dead Milkmen and Pink. I, for one, don’t want to live in a world without “Sara Smile,” “Instant Club Hit (You’ll Dance to Anything)” and “Dear Mr. President.” Speaking of which, hey Pink, maybe it’s time for an updated version? Thanks, Philly, for these acts and these songs. You really do rock.
Now for Boston. And although, yes, they’re the New England Patriots, I felt including all of New England in my song and artist roundup would be too broad, so I’m sticking to Beantown. On the song front, I came up with the Red Sox-adopted “Dirty Water” by The Standells, the tender ’70s ballad “Please Come to Boston” by Dave Loggins and the sweeping seven-minute masterpiece “Boston” by Dresden Dolls, with the lines “Right now we’re here in Boston/ In love with Downtown Crossing/New York will be there in the morning/Come back to bed, my darling.” There are many more songs that mention Boston and Massachusetts, but these three rank high in my playbook.
Boston is the birthplace of some of my favorite artists. I’ll start with Donna Summer. I often forget and then pleasantly remind myself that Summer was indeed born in Boston. Her “Live and More” was often spun on my family’s turntable, and as a result, my love for her take on the Jimmy Webb-penned “MacArthur Park” is one I’ve been singing for pretty much my entire life – despite my ongoing aggravation that someone would actually leave a cake out in the rain.
Some of the other Boston bands that I’ll always bow to include The Pixies, The Cars, The Breeders, ‘Til Tuesday, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers and Dresden Dolls. And although I certainly appreciate Aerosmith, they’re not so much my thing, but I want you to know that I love that they’re a Boston band. Same goes for the band Boston.
Which brings me to the final act and song I’ll mention. I only know two songs by the rock band Extreme. One is a silly one called “Mutha (Don’t Wanna Go to School Today),” and the other is, in my opinion, among the greatest ballads ever written. I’m referring to, of course, its 1990 smash hit “More Than Words.” Gary Cherone sings it with Nuno Bettencourt’s harmonies and acoustic guitar, and it’s right up there with Journey’s “Open Arms” when I think of rock-ballad-royalty songs.
It is because of this single song that I’m picking the New England Patriots to win Superbowl LII. La di da, da di da, more than words …
Now do me a solid and sing along with me! Ready?
P.S. Here’s my Spotify playlist!