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Mike Polk Jr. on Cleveland baseball songs through the years

“We are Cleveland” is just the latest in a long line of classic team songs, and is inspiring heated debate among fans.

CLEVELAND — Last week, The Cleveland Guardians released their new theme song entitled “We are Cleveland”. It was produced and performed by local artists right here in town and it is to be used as the Guardians’ new in-park soundtrack. 

Let’s take a listen and see if I’m feeling it: 

Nope. Don’t like it. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad. Maybe it’s good, it just doesn’t do it for me.

And to be fair most new music sounds pretty terrible to me because I’m old.  I don’t understand popular trends, fashion, technology, social media, etc., so why would music be any different?

I’m not saying that this song is good and I just don’t get it, I’m just saying that as an out-of-touch middle-aged man; I’m not in a position to render a fair ruling.

There are, of course, plenty of people online who don’t share my reservations, and this song is receiving a significant amount of criticism, which won’t surprise anyone who has ever been online.

And I get it. Guardians fans have been asked to endure a lot of change and transition this year and this new theme song probably just feels to them like one more little kick in the craw, a reminder that one chapter of their Cleveland Sports fandom has ended and another has begun, whether they like it or not.

If you think about it, the people who were commissioned to create this song were given a truly daunting task: The Guardians essentially said to them: “Okay, so we just infuriated many of our fans by changing our team’s name, they’re also pretty salty because we made no real moves in the offseason, we have one of the lowest payrolls in the league and still have Bradley Zimmer starting in the outfield. So what we need you to do is make a song that appeals to all generations of fans, brings everyone together and inspires them to love The Guardians. Good luck!”

Clearly it was a tall order to begin with, and no matter what they came up with, it was bound to have detractors because it represents change, and most people don’t like change, particularly avid baseball fans, and that extends even to their pump up songs.

So what are these classic team songs that we’re now being forced to leave behind that were so much better than this recent number? 

Let’s listen to a bit of “Tribe Time Now”, which had been the official team song since 2006.

Wow. Killer jam. What a shame we don’t get to hear that any more. I can already see why people are upset.

How about this one? My personal favorite classic Tribe song: “Indian Fever”.

I admit, I love this one, but not because it’s a good song, it’s not. It’s musically terrible.

I love it of course because of the nostalgic aspect. I grew up with this song. And even though it technically stinks and the music sounds like it should be in a vintage grocery store commercial, I still have a positive association with it because it reminds me of pleasant times.

Finally, how about the song that used to be used to introduce Tribe games on Channel 43 back in the day: “Talkin’ Tribe”. 

Now THAT’S a hometown song that will forever be associated with Cleveland, right? Well, allow me to ruin that for you. We were all deceived. Turns out we weren’t special. Some jingle company was just using that same tune, switching up the words a bit and cranking out soundalike promo songs for other teams. And a divisional rival to boot!

So, say what you will about “We Are Cleveland” but at least it was actually made in Cleveland by Clevelanders. And there’s something to be said for that.

One thing is for certain, you can’t FORCE enjoyment of or affection for a theme song. The most successful examples of the craft are the ones that we come to associate with our teams organically and usually over a long period of time. Maybe “We Are Cleveland” will become that for Guardians fans, maybe it won’t. But whether the song is eventually embraced by the fans or isn’t is not up to the composers or The Guardians, or to me. It will be up to the fans.

And I give the team and the musicians credit for their effort and would like to remind everyone not to judge the results too harshly, because if you’re being honest, the bar wasn’t really that high to begin with.  (Indian Fever sound)

This is Mike Polk, batting about .225 for 3News. 

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