There was a soundtrack to the St. Louis Blues magical run to the Stanley Cup: Laura Branigan’s 1982 hit ‘Gloria.’ Many of MLB’s most storied franchises have a pop song that serves as their official unofficial theme, be it the Yankees and Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York,’ the Dodgers and Randy Newman’s ‘I Love LA,’ or the Chicago Cubs and the worst song I have ever heard in my life.
These are songs that often play moments after victory is sealed, and their opening bars conjure a primal response... you can’t separate the song from the feeling of victory.
The St. Louis Cardinals need just such a theme song.
There could be a theme song just for this 2019 run, in the vein of ‘Gloria.’ But since the Cardinals don’t really have a go-to pop song for the franchise, we could use this season as a test-run for something more long-term.
Joining a team and a song is a mystical phenomenon we can’t begin to understand, but let’s set a few ground rules anyway.
This needs to be an extreme crowd-pleaser, likely from a bygone era
I’ll throw down with anyone when it comes to indie hipster cred, but that has no place here. ‘Gloria,’ ‘Sweet Caroline,’ ‘New York, New York’... these are not Pitchfork critics picks. These are the kind of songs you find on records at the thrift store titled #1 Gold.
It cannot be express-written to be a Cardinals anthem
The last thing we want is some New Country artist recording a song called ‘Time to Fly.’ That gets us into ‘Go Cubs, Go’ territory and you never, ever want to be there.
It needs a killer riff which will sound good on an organ
You can of course play the song itself, but a great organ riff also gives you another chance to fire the crowd up in between innings. It’s probably one reason why early 80s pop fodder like ‘Gloria’ is so often tapped for these things. Those keyboard riffs sound great on a stadium organ.
So with those ground rules in place, let’s look at some possibilities.
Constructive Summer by The Hold Steady
There was a bit of a Twitter conversation about this a week ago, and amongst that thread, Derrick Goold made this suggestion:
"Constructive Summer" by The Hold Steady is on the brink of being perfect, right down to the crowd participation but some heavy lyrics for a ballpark anthem ...#CardinalsAnthem #Cardinals #stlcards #MLB https://t.co/9pwAS7E2pM— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) September 4, 2019
I am a huge fan of the Hold Steady. ‘Constructive Summer’ is a killer song, and the allusions to “we’re gonna build something this summer” do fit thematically with what we’re looking for. But there’s a couple problems.
We’re veering too far into the hipster realm here. This is not a song your aunt has danced to at a wedding. As much as I love the lyrical parallels to baseball, I think it’s just a little too intellectual. ‘Gloria,’ for example, seems to be about a woman imploring her friend to give up on some deadbeat guy. It’s not exactly hockey themed, but you can pump your fist and should “Gloria” every so often.
Invisible Touch by Genesis
So the other day, as I was watching Genesis Cabrera mow down the opposition, I made the most obvious joke possible... but then I got thinking about this song as a team anthem. It’s got a few things going for it.
First, it’s got that big hit of the early 80’s cache. It’s got a riff that would sound great on the stadium organ. Lyrically, in’s not too on-the-nose, but it’s got some allusions that feel like they fit.
She reaches in, grabs right hold of your heart
Oh yeah, that’s Cardinals baseball.
It takes control and slowly tears you apart.
You better believe it, brother.
But here’s the thing: I’m not proposing ‘Invisible Touch’ as a a theme for the St. Louis Cardinals. For one thing, you can’t propose a song as a post on a team blog and expect it to be taken seriously. It’s got to happen more organically. This is more just a proof of concept.
Gloria by Laura Branigan
Why not? It’s the same year that the Blues won with ‘Gloria’ as their anthem. What if the Cardinals adopted the tune as well? On the one hand, it’s the Blues’ thing. On the other hand, the two teams seem to share a bond, and it’s kind of just a St. Louis thing, right? It’s worth considering.
Celebration by Kool & the Gang
In that same Twitter discussion thread, Andy Cohen amplified this suggestion... and it’s a great one.
‘Celebration’ checks all the boxes. When it comes to songs that will get your aunt dancing at a wedding reception, nothing can top this gem from Kool and his Gang.
But of course above all these other suggestions, ‘Celebration’ has genuine St. Louis Cardinals DNA as the theme song for the 1982 World Series team. The song was played after every home win, became the theme for a record album, and was used in some truly fantastic TV ads.
The St. Louis Cardinals need a theme song. Maybe one will come about organically, but until then, bring your good times, and your laughter too.
We gonna celebrate your party with you.