Thursday, January 9, 2014

No. 147 – Supernatural

Performer: Live
Songwriter: Vic Chesnutt
Original Release: Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation
Year: 1996
Definitive Version: None.

I was an interested party when Live did the requisite MTV Unplugged appearance in 1995. It was OK, but I particularly loved the cover version they did of a song I didn’t know. The name of the song was Supernatural.

A year later, when Sweet Relief II came out, I saw that it included Live doing Supernatural, and when I learned that it in fact was the MTV Unplugged version, I made the purchase just for that. Fortunately, I already had a workout tape that included the version from the broadcast, so I had something to tide me over in the meantime.

Scott’s bachelor party in April 1996, before Sweet Relief II came out but after Live’s Unplugged show, became a two-night affair early on in the process. A night of ballet in Windsor, Canada, always was part of the schedule (good ol’ no. 505), but Scott wanted to see a Tigers game, too.

As best man, it was my duty to comply with the wishes of the groom. I checked the Tigers schedule as soon as it came out and targeted a weekend—and two rooms at a Red Roof in Dearborn, Mich.—for mid-April. With our reservation across the border Saturday, we’d have to take in the Tigers Friday night.

Then I asked Scott whether he’d mind if I expanded the bachelor party by one for the Tigers. Scott remembered Dave from years before and said, why not? The more the merrier. Dave immediately agreed and said he’d meet us there.

Three groups of folks drove up. There was the Indiana contingent, which consisted of Shani’s brother, John, and a few of his friends I had met before, and there was the Ohio contingent—me, Scott and Scott’s friend E.J., whom I knew fairly well, too. A separate Ohio crew would come Saturday.

As Scott, E.J. and I headed north on I-75, however, it started to get dark before Toledo. I hadn’t checked the forecast, but this definitely didn’t bode well. Then, right after we crossed the Michigan border, all heck broke loose. It was raining sideways and then we felt hail thump my car pretty good.

Scott turned on WJR to get a weather report, and it was reported that a tornado had been spotted near Temperance, Mich., around I-75 near mile marker No. 5. Right after the announcer said that, we saw mile marker No. 5.

Faster than you can say, HOLY SH, I floored it. Yes, it’s pouring. Yes, visibility is about 100 yards. But we got to get out of here NOW. I did 90 for the next mile, and no one complained … unless it was to go even faster. (We hadn’t yet learned from the wretched Twister that the secret to dealing with tornadoes is to drive towards them.)

Now safe, a larger concern took hold: What was this going to mean for the game? We hadn’t bought tickets ahead of time—there was no need at Tiger Stadium, even in a good year—but we still wanted to go. WJR had no news. I switched to WWJ. Nothing.

Well, we still had a bunch of time before game time, so we drove as planned to Dearborn and checked into the motel. Although the storm eased up by the time we hit Monroe, it continued to rain fairly steadily the rest of the drive. As we sat in our hotel room, waiting to hear from the Indiana contingent, the raindrops hitting the window cast a pall on the proceedings.

The storm delayed the Indiana contingent, and it was getting close to when I had to meet Dave. Scott said he’d wait at the hotel for the others, and E.J. and I went ahead into Detroit. I was pleased to see the rain easing up as we left. By the time we parked on the street on the other side of I-75, the rain had stopped.

We met Dave outside the ballpark, bought tickets and headed in with enough time before the start to check out the souvenir shop. One of my favorite things back then was the broken-bat barrel, where you could buy some Tiger’s firewood. Usually it was a bunch of no-name scrubs. On the night of Scott’s bachelor party a bat by none other than former favorite player Eric Davis was in there. Eric the Red? I’ll take that, thank you.

We got to our seats—not where we bought them, of course, but me and Dave’s usual spot on the first base side about halfway up the lower deck and underneath the upper deck to protect us from rain. Just before the first pitch, Scott and the rest of the crew showed up. Play ball!

A good time was had by all, but Scott particularly loved watching a game for the first time with me and Dave and the wild banter that flew about. (And it laid the foundation for an idea to come many years later).

He relished when the Angels hit two monstrous homers to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in the sixth inning, and Dave and I first noted how the Tiger right fielder didn’t even move when the second homer went out, just hung his head in shame. Then we noted that Chili Davis was just barely past first, a Cadillac trot! We called him out as Scott cracked up.

The Tigers lost, but no one cared. Scott’s only goal was he wanted to see Cecil Fielder hit one out. Sure enough, in the fifth inning, the big man delivered. It was a beaut, a no-doubter from the second the ball left the bat. The only question was where was it going to land? The answer: on the left field roof, where it rolled back into the stadium. “I got what I wanted,” Scott said.

Actually, we all got what we wanted. Even though the forecast was for rain and a mist hung over Tiger Stadium like the Tigers’ general stink (they lost 109 games that year), it didn’t rain a drop … until the game ended.

I’m serious. It rained all day, except for the three hours during game time. Then as soon as the game was over, the skies reopened. It was sprinkling when we took our leave from Dave and pouring by the time we got back to Dearborn.

That was the end of the night’s festivities. We had a big night planned the next night, so we needed to get our rest. And tomorrow night, I want everyone wearing suits … I’m not kidding. Trust me …

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