The Art & Athletics

Remember those commercials from years ago for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups? There would be two people strolling through some public area, one would be enjoying a nice snack of a big vat of peanut butter and the other one would be munching on some chocolate. Distracted, these two individuals would invariably run into each other. "Hey, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!" one would yell, "You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!" replied the other, and then after emotions cooled down they would discover, "You know what, this is pretty good!" and VOILA! Two great things that go great together. A similar situation happen over the weekend. Friday evening featured two great things, that you never thought would be great together.

Alejandro Escovedo was playing at Lynagh's and The Captain and I were ready to enjoy an evening of some great, great music. Both well aware that there was a crucial game six in the NBA Playoffs going on at the same time between the Lakers and the Kings, but we sort of expected that tonight would be devoted to Alejandro and the playoff game could wait.

That is what happened most of the night, until about the third quarter. The music was great, but I caught myself constantly looking over to the TV in the corner to catch a score. Then it began to happen, a slow but steady flow of men over to the bar, right by the TV. Not a word was said, we were listening, but not to each other or to Bill Walton on TV, but to the music. Everything just began to flow together. The action on the court and the music in the air became one. Alejandro would sing, "Everybody loves, but I don't know why!" and Kobe Bryant would appear on screen as I thought, "Why does everyone love him?" The furious pace of "Castanets" mirrored the run and gun style that the Kings and Bobby Jackson were using to get back into the basketball game. It was like Alejandro was watching the same game I was.

The marriage of music and sports was now complete in what became a ballet of sorts. At one point, a woman disgustedly walked through our silent group and snapped, "You all are missing an ARTIST!" The big guy standing next to me looked over, gestured at the game, and said, quietly, so as not to disturb, "She just doesn't get it. There is more than one artist playing tonight." He was right. We get wrapped up in analysis and scores, we sometimes take for granted the artistry of sports. When you turn off the chatter, the talking heads, and everything else, all is left is the beauty. These are extraordinary men doing extraordinary things. Whether it be Shaquille O'Neal showing agility that men have his size wish they had, Mike Bibby bobbing and weaving through traffic, or Kobe Bryant flying through the air, these men are artists.

Combining music and sports is nothing new. Events such as the X Games on ESPN do it all of the time. They sometimes have live bands playing while skateboarders do their tricks on the half pipe or skiers fly and twist overhead. Is it the music playing to the sport or the sport playing to the music? It is really a combination of both. The idea of combining live music by some of my favorite artists with watching sporting events is something I wish I could do all of the time. Imagine sitting on the Pepsi Deck at Legends Field listening to Wilco play a set while Jimmy Barrett sits down the opposing team 1-2-3 with a mastery of pitches. Commonwealth Stadium would rock with the music of Andrew W.K. while Jared Lorenzen leads the quick-strike scoring attack that will lead the Wildcats to many victories this fall. OK, "many" may be pushing it, but at least with Andrew W.K. blowing it out we would all have a good time. The Bluegrass music they already play sometimes at Keeneland is a great idea, the perfect music for the perfect place. My roommate is really into watching the World Cup this month, I could care less, but if Oasis was giving a concert with the games on a large screen, I could probably get into it.

It is true that I did not watch the Alejandro concert with the same focus as I normally would, but I do not think it lessened the experience. I also did not focus on the game as intently as I would have, just sort of letting the visuals flow while my ears stayed tuned to the music. This should be a lesson for sports fans, turn down Dick Vitale, John Madden, and Bill Walton and turn up the music. A great game is being overshadowed by blowhards that are probably telling you something you already know. Much like two idiots stumbling through the park carrying peanut butter and chocolate, (and by the way, who walks around eating peanut butter straight out of the jar?), I have discovered two great things that go great together. Turn down the game, turn up the tunes, sit back and enjoy.