Category Archives: Music

I Will Not Demand A Recount

Manny_waves_to_fans_after_hr I just got home from game one of the playoffs (Beckett… wow), and what matters way more than this Red Sox Nation election is that THE SOX WON. My 8 year-old son predicts 11 consecutive wins in the postseason. I’m not going to argue with him.

I wanted to let everyone know that I am extremely pleased with the outcome of the election. I remain blown away by the support of so many people — from every corner of my past and from people I’ve never met around the world — who cared enough to vote for “Regular Rob” and to ask their friends and family members to vote too. If you are one of those people, I thank you. (And I also want to say that no matter who you voted for, you picked a great candidate…. I got to know some of these people and they’re all first class.)

When this whole process started back in July, I did not realize how many connections with old friends I would reestablish and how many new relationships and conversations with loyal citizens of RSN would begin; I did not envision such an enthusiastic response to a song I’d write and record on my laptop in my basement and to Red Sox/baseball/parenting stories I would write on my blog; and I certainly did not dare to dream that a Pulitzer Prize-winning author I’ve never met would endorse my candidacy, catapulting me to a first-place finish among non-celebrity candidates.

I have heard from many people about how “unfair” it was that Jerry Remy participated in this election. But you know what — having Jerry Remy in the race made it a lot more fun for me and the other candidates. And in the end, Rem Dawg earned this — he’s developed a strong, authentic relationship with Red Sox Nation over a period of many years, he’s a consistently excellent baseball commentator, and the fans love him. Yes indeed, the fans have spoken — Jerry Remy is our president!

Stay tuned for many, many more blog articles here at this website, as well as a steady stream of new songs…. I’ve only just begun…..

Red Sox Nation: A Way of Life

WHRBThis past Saturday, I was invited to appear on WHRB-FM’s famous country/folk music show, Hillbilly at Harvard, and to perform my song, I’m a Member of Red Sox Nation, live on the air. It’s always been a crazy dream of mine to have a song on the radio, so I didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation. And it was a great time. The show’s host, “Cousin Lynn” Joiner (second from left), made me feel right at home during our interview, and then we filled the studio with my song…. “we” being my co-writers, Michele and Dan Page (right), plus their 10 year-old granddaughter and my 8 year-old son, all of whom sang backup vocals. Who knows how it all sounded out in radio-land, but we had a blast. I want to thank Cousin Lynn for making it all possible. It was an honor to be on your legendary radio show.

I was struck by one of Cousin Lynn’s questions. He said, smiling, “So, you’re running for the presidency of a concept?” He was pointing out the absurdity of electing a “president of Red Sox Nation.” Today, I thought more about that. Red Sox Nation…. Is it a band of millions of loyal Red Sox fans? Or is it an emotion? A state of mind? A culture? Well yes, it’s all of these things. But most of all, it’s a way of life. And as I and other members of RSN go through our daily lives, the Red Sox and baseball are literally everywhere we turn. I’m sure your house is a lot like mine….

Baseball gloves are everywhere… Baseball_gloves_everywhere2_2 Baseball_gloves_everywhere_2

Our love for the Red Sox is evident in our closets, where our many hats live, as well as in our laundry baskets and our children’s drawers. Baseball_hats_in_closet_1 Baseball_laundry_basket_3 Baseball_drawer_open_2

RSN calls to us from our children’s walls and game closets…. Baseball_posters_on_wall_1Baseball_game_closet_1

… and from our bookcases and the backs of our cars.Baseball_bookshelf_2Baseball_rsn_sticker_3

Wiffle bats and balls reside in the yard (“Fenway West”)….Baseball_bats_in_backyard2_1 Baseball_balls_next_to_tree_1

… along with bases that our kids have stepped on and dove into thousands of times, imitating  Mueller or Crisp or Nomar or Roberts.Baseball_home_plate_in_backyard_2 Baseball_path_to_second_base_1

The kitchen isn’t just where we refuel, it’s where we pore over every word and every statistic in the Globe sports section, and where our Kid Nation fridge magnet schedule is displayed proudly.Baseball_paper_and_magazines_5Baseball_side_of_fridge_6

And of course, every night between April and October, the game is on, and with every up and down inning, we relive the great highs and lows we’ve experienced as Red Sox fans over the years.

So yes, Cousin Lynn, Red Sox Nation is a concept. A concept whose essence has infiltrated everything about my life and the lives of my many people I know, as well as the lives of millions of others worldwide. That’s one powerful “concept.” It’s a kind of insanity. Hard to imagine any other “way of life”…

This isn’t L.A., it’s Boston

This post also appears at the blog the Boston Red Sox have given me for my campaign for president of Red Sox Nation, at 

Tonight, there was an event at The Baseball Tavern, near Fenway, where 7 of the final 11 candidates for president of Red Sox Nation delivered five-minute campaign messages. I enjoyed meeting the other candidates who were able to attend – Jared Carrabis, Cheryl Boyd, Cindy Brown, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Sam Horn, and the family of the creator of Big Pupi. Below is the message I delivered.

Hi. My name is Rob Crawford, and I’m not famous. I’m not a TV baseball personality. I’ve never played for the Red Sox. My face is not on a plaque in Cooperstown. I have not won a Pulitzer Prize. And I don’t have a column in the New York Daily News.

I have devoted my career to teaching kids, coaching kids, and raising money to support teachers and kids. I grew up in a Sox-crazed family in Brookline, and I’m now raising four children, ages 1 to 8, in a Red Sox house, and loving every day of it. Like you, I am a “regular fan.”

Now I call myself a “regular fan” with no disdain for my worthy, famous opponents. I know their love for the Red Sox is as real and as passionate as any of ours is. And I like all of them. And I really, really respect all of them. In fact, they have all achieved things that I would have liked to have achieved.

But Red Sox Nation has a choice to make in this election. Does Red Sox Nation want its first president to be someone famous – someone for whom this office might be just another feather in his or her cap? Or do they want their first president to be representative of the “regular fan?” Someone whose life would be transformed by this honor? Someone who can relate to the millions of “regular” Red Sox fans around the world – because he/she is one?

I can see L.A. electing a celebrity to be president of Dodgers Nation or Lakers Nation — but in Boston? Inconceivable.

So, what will I do if elected?

The first priority I would have as president of Red Sox Nation would be to improve ticket accessibility, and I’d start with a program called Red Sox Angels.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that revealed to you that the other person’s life would be deeply touched by tickets to a Red Sox game? And you knew that if you owned season tickets, you would give that four tickets right there on the spot? Perhaps their spouse, who is a huge Red Sox, is in the final stages of terminal cancer, and tickets would enable him to say “goodbye” to Fenway. Or perhaps she’s a single mother with three kids who’s struggling to make ends meet and could never conceive of taking her family to a game.

The Red Sox Angels program would put season tickets into the hands of Red Sox Angels across New England who would go through their daily lives looking and listening for people to give their tickets away to. Imagine the feeling of giving away Red Sox tickets to those who don’t expect it, and the feeling of receiving tickets when that’s precisely what you’re dreaming of! If the Red Sox were willing to donate 12 seats per year to this program, it would enable 24 Red Sox Angels to give away blocks of four tickets to ten games each season, resulting in 972 fans per year attending a game as a result of random but targeted generosity.

My second idea to improve ticket access is called, Sox Tix for Kids.

Almost no season ticket holder actually attends every Red Sox home game, and almost every season ticket hfans at Fenwayolder would love to donate at least one game’s tickets to a group of children who have never attended a game at Fenway, have no access to tickets to Fenway, but really want to go to a game at Fenway.

I envision a program that asks season ticket holders, on their season ticket renewal form, to donate one or more games’ tickets to the Sox Tix for Kids program. By doing so, they would be making a tax-deductible donation and would be spreading Red Sox joy to kids who, without this gift of tickets, would not be able to get inside Fenway Park and experience its mystery and magic first hand. A thank you letter from the kids to the donor of the tickets would be part of the system, and this would help encourage season ticket holders to make this gift year after year.

How would we identify these kids who want to go to a game, but have no access to tickets? Perhaps we would partner with Boys and Girls Clubs around New England; perhaps we would partner with the Boston Public Schools. The details need to be fleshed out, but since we were able to figure out how to put seats on top of the Green Monster, I have no doubt we can figure out how to get season ticket holders’ tickets into the hands of baseball-dreaming kids.

My third idea is called, More Dirty Water.

As many of you know, I love music, and as part of my campaign, I co-wrote and recorded a song called, I’m A Member of Red Sox Nation. I would love to use my platform as President of Red Sox Nation to bring together outstanding Boston-area musicians and other musical members of Red Sox Nation – famous and not-so-famous – to create a unique collection of great songs about the Red Sox, about Fenway, and about being a Boston sports fan. I envision all profits from this CD going to the Red Sox Foundation to support local charities.

I just don’t think it would be very hard to rally Red Sox Nation’s greatest musical artists to participate in a project of this kind, and I imagine it would add a new dimension to Red Sox Nation’s fan experience while providing a windfall for the Red Sox Foundation and the local Boston charities they support. Plus, it would be a heck of a lot of fun.

Now, before I close, let me leave you with this thought: Years from now, when this election is over and the first president’s term is a distant memory, the 6 or 7 famous candidates – regardless of whether they win or lose this election – will look back on this whole Red Sox Nation thing as having been another pleasant public relations bonanza, another famous experience in a lifetime of famous experiences. But for those of us in this campaign who are “regular fans,” THIS is our one chance to rise from our dignified obscurity and make a far-reaching impact. THIS is our chance to so something extraordinary. I know that us “regular fans” would look back on our year as President of Red Sox Nation as the greatest thing we ever did in our lives. And you would look back on our tenure filled with pride for having helped elect a true, non-famous representative of Red Sox Nation.

Red Sox Nation, I thank you. Remember, this isn’t L.A., it’s Boston, and Red Sox Nation deserves a “regular fan” as its first president.

I’m a Member of Red Sox Nation, the video

When you send out a mass email to your friends announcing that you’re a candidate for president of Red Sox Nation and that you’ve written a song as part of the campaign, there’s bound to be at least one person out there who volunteers to make a music video. And that person, in my case, was old friend Henry Berman. Thank you, Henry! And thanks to Dan Hnatio at Active Communications for loaning Henry the video gear, and to Adrianne Parent for her masterful editing, and to Tom Sprague at National Boston for donating Adrianne’s time and the editing room/equpiment. And thanks to all the kids and their parents who spent the day with us at Fenway on September 2. And thank you to my mother-in-law for taking care of three of my four children who did not appear in the video during the shoot. And thank you to the people we met at Fenway that day who took the leap and agreed to learn the song and sing it (or dance to it) on camera. And thanks to Red Sox pitcher Kyle Snyder, who threw baseballs to TWO of the children in our group as they watched the Sox take batting practice from atop the Green Monster. Finally, thanks to the Red Sox for giving us access to Fenway Park and Yawkey Way prior to the game on September 2. I appreciate their willingness to help us candidates do whatever we dream up to establish our campaigns. I hope you enjoy watching the video as much as we enjoyed making it.

20 Presidents at Game On!

Rob, Robert, Caroline, Erin, EmmaAll of us who attended the Red Sox Nation Presidential Campaign Event at Game On! last night had a lot of fun. The event featured three-minute platform speeches from 20 of the 25 “finalist candidates” who were able to attend, and was hosted by Hazel Mae and Dr. Charles Steinberg.

While singing I’m A Member of Red Sox Nation with my son, niece, and friends, Big Papi cranked a triple vs. Tampa Bay on the large screen TVs (nope, those cheers from the crowd were not for us). The platforms and personalities of the candidates were incredibly diverse, yet when we all got up on stage together to sing “Sweet Caroline” at the end of the night, there was not a shred of competitiveness in the room. Slapping each other on the back, we all knew we were in the company of family members we just hadn’t met before. We were all related in a way that reached to the core of our identities. It was like meeting long lost brothers and sisters, all of us sharing the same genetic neuroses, the same obsessive passion for baseball, the Red Sox, and Fenway Park.

It was a privilege to share the stage with Hall of Famer, Peter Gammons, and I enjoyed meeting Sam Horn, who is a truly classy guy and gave a rousing speech. And 18 year-old Will French, born in Connecticut and now living in Rye, New York, stole the show with his raw humor. Pretty much the only thing missing at the event was negativity, which made it feel strangely un-Red Soxian. Is this what it feels like in Anaheim sports bars?

If I were running this thing, I’d end the campaign now and appoint all 25 finalists, or hold an election to solidify a group of 10-15 “presidents.” Multiple presidents could serve the fans, and the Red Sox, much better than one person could. “President of Red Sox Nation” has a nice ring to it, but given that the Nation isn’t a government and doesn’t really need a single decision-maker, wouldn’t everyone benefit more from a group of RSN presidents reflecting all kinds of RSN diversity and points of view? I’d hate to lose the sense of shared purpose, enthusiasm, and camaraderie we started to cultivate on Tuesday night. And how can Rem Dawg, Peter Gammons, and Sam Horn NOT have a role in this first “administration?”

(photo by Flo Farrell)

“I’m a Member of Red Sox Nation” — birth of a song

I have written a few Red Sox songs this summer. (I guess you could say writing baseball songs is a hobby — but the truth is, these tunes just come to me when I’m driving or hacking on my guitar.) One is called, There is Nothing Bettah, Than Beating Mariano Rivera. My kids like thakids bandt one. Another is called, On the Corner of Brookline Ave and Yawkey Way. This is the song I invited my songwriting friends, Dan Page and Michele Page, to come listen to about a week ago to help me write some lyrics. Just before they got to my house, the tune and first line of, I’m A Member of Red Sox Nation came to me. When Dan and Michele arrived, I didn’t even bother playing the Brookline Ave and Yawkey Way tune for them — I knew that the Nation song was the one we needed to work on. And we did.

It was a good time. We filled pads of paper with Red Sox images, phrases, memories, and ideas, referred from time to time to our thesaurus and rhyming dictionary, wrote and rejected about 250 lines — and a few days later, the song was complete. I stayed up late a few nights recording/engineering it on my iBook (using Garage Band software and the Mac’s built-in mike) in my basement, which is also my kids’ playroom. Surrounded by Play-Doh, dolls, and Pokemon cards, I perched the laptop on the surface of our air hockey table, and if you listen to the song carefully, you can hear our loud basement fridge droning in the background.

A week after the basement sessions, my good friends Bob Little and Michelle Rufo, along with about ten other day camp counselors at Summer@Park, taught the song to about fifty campers and organized them for an informal recording session in the lobby of the school’s gym. The kids’ enthusiastic singing was added to the last verse, along with their favorite Red Sox cheer, “Let’s Go Red Sox!”

The song was played at Fenway Park between the top and bottom of the fifth inning last Wednesday, July 18. If it has been played since then, I haven’t heard about it. Whether or not I’m elected president of Red Sox Nation, Dan, Michele, and I hope this song is good enough and gets enough play to get stuck in people’s heads across New England for years to come, making them smile every time they hear it. To read the lyrics, or to download the song for free, go here.


I remember when I was a young boy, sometimes in the summer my father and I would walk down to the baseball field in Cleveland Circle to watch a men’s amateur league game. We’d stand right behind the backstop, and I vividly remember the terrifying velocity on those fastballs, and I can hear in my head the deafening wham of the ball smashing into catcher’s mitt, and I recall watching hitters barely flinch when a pitch went zinging by, and I remember the exact feeling I had watching all this. I thought, “These guys are so incredibly, inconceivably good. And they’re not even professionals.”Collings guitar

In my 20s, I actually played in that men’s amateur baseball league and enjoyed several good years pitching for Avi Nelson Club. But even the best players among us were not nearly good enough to play at the lowest levels of minor league baseball. There were no scouts at our games. We were all amateurs. Happy amateurs.

I was reminded of this amateur-professional idea last Wednesday night, when I had the good fortune to accompany my friend, songwriter Dan Page, on guitar and background vocals at his show in New York City. Dan is widely admired in music circles, and about fifteen of his musical friends (including the amazing Mark Nadler and many members of the extraordinary Sullivan family) came from all over the country to perform in this show, which featured Dan’s most enduring compositions. Dan asked me to back him up on two songs – the first two songs of the show – and, humbled and honored, I quickly agreed.

The thing is, I was the only amateur musician who participated. Everyone else that plugged into an amp or sang into a mike that night was a pro. And, my God, was I out of my league.

I played all the chords just fine, and I sang my harmony nicely. But I had prepared only for things to go exactly as we had rehearsed, and that’s rarely the way things go when the show is on. The order of verses can get switched without warning, the bridge can get skipped, the pause before the final chorus can get extended, etc. Pros handle these “invisible blunders” with grace and ease. I think they actually love it when things don’t go according to plan. I may have risen to the occasion last Wednesday night, but I sure didn’t feel like a pro when the surprises came along.

The bass player that night, Ritt Henn, was a true pro. He was reading the sheet music for all of these songs for the first time, on stage, and not only performing the songs flawlessly, but adding flourishes at just the right moments and rolling with all the “invisible blunders” of the guitarists, pianists, and vocalists with which he shared the stage – and doing it all with a big smile on his face. (I wrote to Ritt and referred to him as “the Derek Jeter of bass players,” and he wrote back, “Hey, wait a minute…you guys are Red Sox fans, right? Is that some kind of insult or something? (insert appropriate smiley faced icon here) Thanks for the kind words…it’s fun winging it, and it was a kick playing with all those different folks, and thank you (and the entire Red Sox Nation) for recognizing and admiring Mr. Jeter’s prowess…. y’know, the year you guys won, I was actually rooting for you.”)

Trot NixonPerforming with Ritt Henn and all those pros was like being asked to play right field for two innings of a Major League Baseball game. I thought, “I can catch a fly ball. I’ve done this a million times.” But in real games, easy flies are intermingled with screaming line drives in the gap, violently bad hops, jeering Yankee fans (see photo), and split-second decisions about which base to throw to. Pros react to these unpredictable challenges as though they expected them — because they’ve practiced for the unexpected their whole lives — and even in the most unusual situations, they execute flawlessly. A pro hits his tee shot into the sand on the 18th hole at Augusta National — and still saves par.

That’s what I learned last Wednesday night in New York. I may know how to play those chords and sing that harmony – I may know how to catch a fly ball – I may know how to drive a golf ball into the fairway – but I’m an amateur. A happy amateur. (Although it sure is fun to hang out with and learn from professionals…)

iPod Nirvana in 4 Steps

I don’t know anyone who has set up his/her iPod in a more “customized to owner” way than I have. I’m sure they’re out there, but I haven’t met them yet. Here are some of the principles I’ve followed, playlists I’ve created, and ways I use the iPod and iTunes to create my customized iPod experience.

1. Be a critical gatekeeper: only include songs on your iPod that you would not want to always skip over. In other words, don’t let one song get onto your iPod if it’s a song you don’t like, or a song you would never want to hear if you were to play your iTunes library randomly. When I put my 500-CD collection onto my iBook G4 in November/December 2004, and then onto my iPod, I did not download entire CDs. I only downloaded songs that passed the above test. Since then, I have downloaded every song that I do not own that I like enough NOT to skip over (about 400 songs purchased). As a result, my iPod is a collection of every single song that I like that is available to me. My iPod yells out to me to push “play” because there is never the possibility that a “blah” song will come on. (Yes, I do skip over songs from time to time, but it’s not because it’s a song I don’t like, just because I don’t want to hear it at that moment.)

A key to creating a perfectly customized music library is to FORGET about what other people might think about you for liking a particular song or artist – if you like Barry Manilow or Cyndi Lauper, get their songs on your iPod! (My library includes 12 Manilow tunes, and 6 Lauper tunes. Damn the critics of my music taste! It’s my iPod!)

2. Rate your songs, then set up smart playlists that reference your ratings. All my songs are rated with either 3, 4, or 5 stars. (If it’s a 2-star song, it doesn’t make it onto my iPod.) The playlists I have set up that use my ratings are: a) 5-star songs. b) 4-star songs. c) 5-star songs played 1 or 0 times. d) 5 and 4-star songs played 1 or 0 times. e) 5 and 4-star country songs.

You might think I would listen to my 5-star playlist most often, but I have found that I am more attracted to my 4-star playlist, and my 4 and 5-star playlist, because there is the promise of greater variety and therefore more surprises. (I have about 350 5-star songs, and 1,650 4-star songs.) My 5-star songs are songs that will always be my all-time favorites, but it also means I have heard them many times already. My 5-star playlist is the one I play when I’m providing the music for a party or social gathering of some kind. Only the best for my guests, and if someone’s going to comment on the music (with compliments or criticism), I want it to be only my precious favorites.

3. Create smart playlists that group songs by playcount. The most played song on my iPod has been played 96 times. (Accidentally In Love, by Counting Crows – my children’s #1 most requested song.) My tenth most-played songs have been played 41 times (Take Me Home, Country Roads, by John Denver – another popular request of my kids – is tied with I’m Comin’ Home, by Robert Earl Keen). My 100th most played: 13 songs tied at 15 times played. My 500th most played: 115 songs tied at 4 times played. My 1,000th most played: 305 songs tied at 3 times played.

I have found that sometimes I want to hear my most played group (top-100), sometimes I want to hear the next tier of most-played (top-101-300), sometimes the next tier (played 3-4 times), and sometimes I want to hear songs hardly ever (or never) played. The playlists I have set up to make this work are: a) 1-100 most-played songs. b) Top-600 most-played songs. c) 101-350 most played songs. d) 350-600 most-played songs. e) 600-1,000 most played songs. f) Top-1,000 most-played songs. g) Songs played 0-1 times.

4. Dig up buried treasure: search iTunes for alternate versions of your 5-star songs, and download those that make you say “Wow!” I have probably downloaded 60 songs that are alternate or live versions – or covers – of my favorite songs. And many of these have become card-carrying members of my 5-star song club! Think about it – if you love a song enough to give it 5 stars, there are probably many musicians out there who have loved it enough to cover it. And often, there’s a live version you never knew existed. Now, most of the alternate/cover/live versions I’ve sampled on iTunes are not good enough to download. But perhaps one out of five is excellent – and then I’ve found buried treasure for my iPod!