The Athletics returned to playing Kool and The Gang's "Celebration" after their second win of the season Wednesday night, playing its familiar opening strains for about a minute and a half, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser. The A's production team then played the Phenomenauts' "Theme for Oakland" as A's public address announcer Dick Callahan read the line scores.
I don't care that the vote for the new song in our poll was winning 2-to-1 over the old song. "Celebration" felt right Wednesday night, and the first 90 seconds of it are exactly the parts of the song everybody knows, anyway. Here are five reasons why Celebration will continue to bring you your good times and your laughter too at the Coliseum:
1. Celebration is cross-generational
If you are 84, it's the song you made the DJ play at your grandchild's wedding.
If you are 54, it's the song that reached no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in 1981.
If you are 24, it's the corny song your parents added to the playlist at your birthday party when you were 15.
Everybody knows Celebration and knows that it's a song for good times. Theme for Oakland is a neat anthem, but few people have heard of it, and it doesn't bring any emotional history to the table.
2. You don't have to know the words
Really, the only thing you need to know is that the song is called "Celebration." You don't even have to know, "CELLLLLLLLLLL-UH-BRATE GOOD TIMES COME ON." You can get the lyrics wrong but the gist of the song is the same. My father always sings it "Celll-uh-bray-shun time come on!" The chorus is just a bunch of words until the next "Celllllllll-uh-bray-shun!"
If that's too hard for you or your four-year-old hearing it for the first time, "YAH-HOO!" is really all you need.
You have to know the words to Theme for Oakland to have a chance to be pumped by it for a win. Otherwise, it sounds like something the Dropkick Murphys would play at Fenway.
3. Our traditions are important, other team's traditions matter not
Sure the Angels, Astros, and Padres all use Celebration for their home wins, and Oakland's use of Celebration wasn't continuous; from 1998-2005 the team used KISS' "Rock and Roll All Nite," according to CSN's Joe Stiglich. Otherwise, Celebration has been Oakland's regular victory song since 1982, according to Susan Slusser.
Our own players feed off the song. Sean Doolittle told Joe Stiglich the "players often yell the 'woo-hoo' part of 'Celebration' as they're walking through their high-five line."
YouTube also evinces Celebration being played after the A's clinched the 1981 American League West division title in a sweep of the original Division Series to advance to the ALCS (tip of the hat to Matt Young on Twitter):
In a period where we've seen a lot of changes to our team and our stadium, can't this one thing just stay the same?
4. Theme for Oakland is too boastful
Which is to say Oakland has many things to be proud of, but Theme for Oakland's lyrics don't quite get it right. I'll leave it to AN member "fridaynightfan" to say why:
Other than the fact that they use the word Oakland in the lyrics, what else about it is even remotely Oaklandish? "Oakland is the capital of the Earth" is not boastful, it's ridiculous. Oaklanders are not boastful, chest-thumping fans like East Coasters. One point of pride for Oakland is that it is NOT the capital of California, the Bay Area or baseball. We're underdogs. We're gritty. We're resourceful.
5. We're conditioned to respond positively to Celebration
"Tic Tic Tid-it."
Those first four beats on the drums immediately spawn immensely good feelings within you and me because they've been associated with joyous occasions for so long. It's Pavlovian by now. Walk off home run, everyone is screaming their heads off, and "Tic Tic Tid-it."
Celebration sometimes comes up in my music shuffle, and the same thing happens. I get a tingly feeling like everything is going to be alright. We're so accustomed to it that when it's missing from events we normally associate with it, we respond viscerally.
I see it the way the android character Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation saw how he could have friendships despite his inability to have feelings on the television show:
"As I experience certain sensory input patterns, my mental pathways become accustomed to them. The input is eventually anticipated and even missed when absent."
How Theme for Oakland could become an Oakland A's staple
Could we make new friends? Sure, and there are a few things the A's could do to make Theme for Oakland more of a singalong anthem and less of a "Huh? What's that?" They could put the lyrics on these newfangled video boards. They could play the song during one of the inning breaks, though probably not after Take Me Out To The Ballgame.
The first verse takes 18 seconds. Then there's about 35 seconds of "Hey! Hey! Hey!" that could be truncated. The second verse is about 18 seconds. Finally, the slower verse that begs people to link arms and sway takes about 30 seconds.
So you need at least 1:06 to play a truncated version, and maybe a few seconds before that for Kara to say something like, "Stand up A's fans for Theme For Oakland!" (or something else less lame). There's only 1:55 of guaranteed entertainment time before reaching the point where the pace of play clock requires the public address announcer to announce the next batter.
That's what it would take for Theme for Oakland to reach Celebration's familiarity. Until then, why mess with a good thing?