Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Backward Glances

Baseball is nostalgic. That is, people get nostalgic about baseball. Even people who don't particularly like baseball will sometimes wax nostalgic over Mickey Mantle or Pete Rose or just generally "the old days." Nostalgia is simply glancing backwards and enjoying, or mourning, that which is now lost to time and change.

New York City, like baseball, also causes people to wax nostalgic. I'm sure there is nostalgia for lost Los Angeles, or lost Atlanta, but I never hear about it. But I was loving NYC nostalgia even before I ever visited the city. Part of the appeal of a movie like, say, On the Waterfront, is the vision it provides of an old lost NYC. Do kids still keep pigeon coops on the rooftops?

Me, I'm kind of a sucker for songs and books and films that have an air of nostalgia about them.This is a wide field to play in, so I'm never running out. It's the glossy and new I tend to disdain, and this has always been the way with me. 

Anyway, here are two nostalgic songs. First, the baseball nostalgia. This song is a good example, because it's power is in the way even just the mention of a name can provoke pleasure. As one who does not actually remember any of these ballplayers, it still gives me joy as an ode to baseball's past. Dave Frishberg's "Van Lingle Mungo."

And probably my favorite baseball nostalgia song is also a great New York City nostalgia song. Recorded in 1973, it's Sinatra in a pensive mood, counting the cost of change, as old men often do. The song is called, "There Used to Be a Ballpark Here."

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