Baseball related songs: “Bill Lee” by Warren Zevon

In today’s episode of Baseball related songs, we pay attention to “Bill Lee” performed by Warren Zevon. The song is about the Space man, who was suspended from baseball because of the use of pot, which he claimed not to have smoked. 

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor bill spaceman leeBill Lee was called the Spaceman because of his odd personality. In a 13-year career, Lee played for the Boston Red Sox, who drafted him, from 1969 through 1978 and for the Montreal Expos from 1979 through 1982. SABR stated that he was an original in a sport that often frowns on any show of originality.

According to Warren Zevon, he saw Lee someday at a Red Sox spring training game. Lee was in the stands, with a wild white beard and a “Fidel ’59” shirt. “He still knows how to piss people off,” Zevon stated.  Lee was one of the first baseball stars to embrace the whole sex, drugs and rock & roll lifestyle, always saying, “I’m a southpaw in a northpaw world.” He got suspended for admitting his fondness for the weed, although he swore he didn’t smoke it – he just sprinkled it on his pancakes. He was a big Warren Zevon fan, prone to quoting “Lawyers, Guns and Money” during high-stress situations, so Zevon thanked Lee for the compliment by naming this outlaw ballad after the Spaceman.

Warren Zevon was a rock singer and songwriter with a broad variety of songs and albums. Even though he was successful as frontman of a band, his solo career never really took off until his music was performed by Linda Ronstadt. Zevon’s first work of fame was the music for the movie Midnight Cowboy.

Zevon performed with various big names in the music business: David Gilmour, Tom Petty, The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M, to name a few.

Bill Lee is part of the Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School album from 1980. The song is a brief narrative from the point of view of Mr. Lee about the banality and duplicitous nature of baseball dugout culture, but also his passion for the game and winning. The final section of the song makes reference to Bill Lee’s outspokenness through the lyric “and sometimes I say things I shouldn’t. Like …”, followed by a harmonica riff in the place of a voice, leaving the content to the listener’s imagination.

The lyrics of the song are as follows:

You’re supposed to sit on your ass and nod at stupid things
Man, that’s hard to do
And if you don’t, they’ll screw you
And if you do, they’ll screw you, too

When I’m standing in the middle of the diamond all alone
I always play to win
When it comes to skin and bone

And sometimes I say things I shouldn’t
And sometimes I say things I shouldn’t

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