I received an email a few weeks ago from a man named Rick Wade. He introduced himself as a former college and minor-league player, who won the 1985 College World Series as an assistant coach. He detailed his personal connections to some Cubs names you might also recognize: Ed Lynch, Jim Hendry and former Cubs trainer John Fierro. After reading about his impressive baseball resume, he also told me he had written a song -- a Cubs song. And he needed my musical help.
Katie Day needs no introduction to many of you, as she is the artist behind last years Cubs anthem "By The Lakeside". She DID NOT need my help in creating her new Cubs song, "We've got the Fire". What she sought and needed was inspiration to create a follow up track to last years song. Inspiration she found at a Cubs game.
Rick sent me the lyrics to what was then called "World Series Fever." To get the song to an appropriate radio-friendly length, I edited the prose and sent it back, with a few lyric suggestions of my own. I then recorded Rick, who does not claim to be a singer, singing his song on the phone, and I got to work turning it into what our current society deems "a song."
Katie, an Indiana native, sat near the Cubs bullpen during the August trip to Los Angeles. Aroldis Chapman got up to warm his arm with his weighted ball. The POP the ball made in the catchers mitt was so sonically intense, that it reminded Katie of a snare drum. She recorded the sound to sample it, determined to find a way to use the intensity of Chapman's caught pitch in a song.
I edited and futzed further while recording the demo of "World Series Fever," laying down piano, guitar and vocals to a drum loop and then MP3'd it back to Rick. Rick called me with various lyrical concerns, but also genuine excitement about what we were creating together! "This could really be the year!" Rick exclaimed! The spirit of positivity and his enthusiasm for the Cubs was infectious, and I promised him I'd do all I could to convey the spirit of his sentiment in my voice.
Katie went to work, spending hours working and reworking the song. She wrote harmonies and fussed over sounds and timbres. She mixed and remixed. Listened and re-listened. She turned Chapman's pitch into an instrument.
I did the same for Rick's song, except for the Chapman snare bit, all the while channeling Rick's passionate spirit. I laid down a banjo track.
Katie downloaded clips for "We Got the Fire"'s video.
Rick sought out artists for the album cover and navigated for the first time, the strange and convoluted world of music distribution and promotion. He also changed the name of the song to "Chicago Series Fever."
After days of performing, tweaking, compiling, mixing, emailing, sampling, and discussing... both songs were "In the can," as we say in the biz. Done. Finished. Ready for release!
Two very different paths to the same end. We all made music while dreaming of a Cubs World Series Championship. Just as Arthur O'Shaughnessy famously wrote and Willy Wonka popularized, "We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams." Musical dreaming on the path to reality. A World Series victory reality!
So here they are! Two new Cubs songs! Along with interviews with each composer and a spanking new hype video from Katie Day.
And here's the new hype video from Katie Day on Youtube!
A video of "Chicago Series Fever" featuring many of my favorite photos from this years Cubs season!
And finally...my interviews with both artists.