I’m Not Really Superstitious (I’m Simply Not Taking Chances)

September 18, 2008

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The one thing that can make the most skeptical person become a strict adherent to superstition has to be being a sports fan. It doesn’t matter the sport, team, or athlete, if you have an allegiance it will drive you to ritualistic behavior with a certainty that to not do so will undoubtedly wreak havoc on your icon’s fortunes.

So, when I settled in to watch Pittsburgh play Cleveland the other night, there was a Terrible Towel draped atop the television. As the Steelers held a slight lead in a swirling rain, led by a quarterback playing with what announcers referred to as a “separated shoulder,” I was noting songs that were played as the game went into and out of commercials.

Jane’s Addiction’s Been Caught Stealing? Unexpected.

Gorillaz’ Feel Good Inc.? OK.

The Pretender’s My City Was Gone? Well, they were in Cleveland and Chrissie Hynde was from nearby Akron.

How did these songs connect and what did it bode for my team? All were songs by bands which Paloma loved. The tea leaves told me it bode well.

Along with my diligent search for signs, I engaged in behavior understood by all sports fans – doing (or not doing) certain things based on the results of each play. If you swallow a mouthful of water and your team runs a play that gets a first down, the next play requires another swallow to ensure success – things like that. It really is quite exhausting.

And, thanks to my heroic efforts – the Steelers defeated the Browns.

Of course, the theme to the Sunday night game (what’s the overly dramatic name they’ve christened it? Football Night In America?), is Joan Jett’s I Hate Myself For Loving You (with new lyrics pertaining to the event at hand) as performed by Faith Hill. I’m not taken with this update and, perhaps because of the song’s adaptation, I’ve soured on Jett’s original.

But, you do have to have love for Joan. Personally, my affection for Joan is tempered this week knowing that she is from Philadelphia (and, thus, possibly an Eagles fan) and the Steelers play at Philadelphia this Sunday.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Light Of Day
Written for the movie of the same name by Bruce Springsteen. I only caught bits of the flick when it was on cable in college, but the concept of Joan Jett and Michael J. Fox as bandmates is confusing to me. I’ve read Fox’ autobiography (which is quite a worthwhile read) and he could have probably hung with Joan in his youth, but Marty McFly and Joan Jett…man, she’d have sent him back to Doc Brown in a body bag.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – I Love Rock ‘N Roll
The song that made everyone alive and conscious in 1982 aware of Ms. Jett. It was always on the radio during the late winter/early spring of that year. The damned thing still triggers a Pavlovian response from me every time I hear it – it must be spring. It’s that deeply ingrained in my psyche.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Everyday People
Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, the ethnic make-up of our sleepy, little hamlet would have never led us to being mistaken for a Benetton ad. And, as I didn’t listen to much R&B on the radio, I likely had no idea who Sly Stone was when this version introduced me to one of his classics.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Cherry Bomb
Isn’t Cherry Bomb about as gloriously elemental as a rock song can be? Proof that oftentimes there is no need to reinvent the wheel.