(Apologies to Ernie Banks for that headline …)

Sept. 5: In honor of today’s big slate of college football, here’s a gridiron triple-header. 

Game 1: Western Kentucky at Tennessee, 12:20 p.m. EDT
Selection: “Rocky Top” | The Osborne Brothers

Click to listen

Click to listen

My diploma says University of Tennessee, but I’m no fan of the Vols. I am, however, a huge fan of The Osborne Brothers, who made some wonderful music in their heyday (late ’50s through mid-’70s) with superb picking, stirring high-lead trio harmonies and (mostly) tasteful use of country instruments like steel, electric guitar and piano. You can hear it in “Rocky Top,” a B side that became a country hit in 1968. UT athletics later appropriated it for a fight song, and it’s now one of the several state songs of Tennessee.  Good ‘ol Rocky Top.

Game 2: Western Carolina at Vanderbilt, 6:30 p.m. CDT
Selection: “Straight A’s In Love” | Johnny Cash

Click to listen

Click to listen

This tune has nothing to do with Vandy or football. But it seems fitting to sing about scholarship in honor of the studious Commodores. “Straight A’s In Love”  was a Top 20 hit for Johnny Cash on Sun Records in late 1959, a year after he’d left the label for Columbia. The song was recorded in December 1956, at the height of the rock ‘n’ roll explosion. Which probably explains its adolescent viewpoint and understated boogie beat. With that unmistakable Sun sound, it’s a great though obscure example of early Man in Black.

More:

Game 3: Unknown Southern teams
Selection: “What It Was, Was Football” | Andy Griffith

Click to watch

Click to watch

I’ve heard this 1953 comedy routine by “Deacon Andy Griffith” a thousand times, and I still laugh out loud. It’s a young evangelist’s expression of wonder at seeing his first football game. Capitol Records released “What It Was, Was Football” as a single, which reached No. 9 on the charts in ’54 and launched Griffith’s career. In ’58, MAD Magazine published the text of the routine, accompanied by George Woodbridge illustrations. Those are now on YouTube. So watch, listen, and laugh to celebrate another football season.

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