Green Ain't Mean Compared to Red
by Jeff Lewis

During the pre-game show of the third game of the World Series, Fox presented a highlight montage ste to a terrible guitar-wailing rock song that had these lyrics:

Whoa!  Red!  Red!  I want red!
That's what I said!  That's what I said!
Gimme red, red, 'cause I want red!
Some like it hot-tah, I like it red!

Red!  Red!  I want red!
There's no substitute for red!
Red!  Paint it red!
Green ain't mean compared to red!

Presumably, this was a tribute to the color of Boston and St. Louis’s jerseys, but other than that, I couldn’t figure out why Fox would subject anyone to this.  (A couple of minutes later, a knock-off version of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” followed.  I’ve got nothing against Thin Lizzy, but I don’t want to hear this song again until it’s appropriate, i.e. the 20th anniversary special for Full House.  If possible, I’d also like to stay away from rock 'n' roll versions of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”)

There’s also the perplexing reference to green:  “Green ain’t mean compared to red!”  Did someone at Fox throw this line into the song, thinking, “We need lyrics about red and green because the teams are both red and one plays in Fenway Park, home of the Green Monster?”  I think I remember seeing a red-clad outfielder catching a ball up against the Green Monster while that line was being delivered.  Could that be all there is to it, or is there a deeper meaning?  How about a subtle jab at the red-green colorblind?  Would Fox stoop that low?  Yes, but that’s still far-fetched.

I reckoned that there must be a good reason for those lyrics, other than the jersey color/Green Monster theory, and the fact that the song uses the word red fourteen times.  With hopes of learning more, I typed, “Red Red Red There’s no substitute for red” into the Yahoo! Search engine.  I didn’t expect much more than 12,000 links to the Red Rooster Diner, the Red Square, red furniture, Red Foxx, etc., but, with luck, I might be able to find a reference to the song somewhere around the 100th link—on something like (“Reverse the Curse!”—hope they’re happy now that their website needs to be completely redone) or Boston Charlie’s No Maaah Nomaaaah Page.

I’m not intimately familiar with Bette Midler’s career, so I was shocked when the first search result was a match.  Apparently, Fox used a rockin’ cover of Bette Midler’s song “Red” from her 1977 album Broken Blossom, but with the lyrics swapped around in order to include “green” and maximize the number of “reds” in the two verses.  I still didn’t see a connection between this song and the current World Series, though.  Was the person in charge of video montages a devotee from Bette’s bathhouse days, still intent on expanding Fox’s meager homosexual fan base after they’d turned down his “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “From a Distance” montages?  To find out, I delved further into her internet bios.

Bette Midler—Lady M, if you prefer, or even the Divine Miss M—was born in New Jersey, grew up in Hawaii and came to prominence in New York.  I could not find any ties to the Red Sox or Cardinals in any of her bios, although Cardinals pitchers Matt Morris and Julian Tavares both list Beaches as their favorite chick-flick.  Actually, that’s not true.

After about an hour of searching, I made a breakthrough.  The writing tandem of Carter & Hagar own the writing credits for “Red.”  Since Lady M covered a lot of show tunes in the seventies, I assumed that this must be from a baseball-themed musical, like Damn Yankees.  Upon looking up Carter & Hagar, though, I was surprised to find that the song is a tribute to one of the writers, the Red Rocker himself, Sammy Hagar.

The song first appeared on his eponymous solo album in 1977, which his fans call “The Red Album.”  This is a bit off the topic, but thinking of Sammy Hagar makes me sad because it reminds me of the disappointment I felt when I first heard the Van Halen album 5150.  They were my favorite band; that in itself makes me sad. I didn’t care for his embarrassing screams—“Yea-aaah!”, “Uhhhaa!”—and only listened to the album a few times.  I don’t think I even bothered to listen to their next album, OU812 and certainly didn’t buy For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.  I’m not compatible with that sort of cleverness.

I’m afraid the same cannot be said for the guy in charge of the highlight montage.  My conclusion is that he probably just likes Sammy Hagar and Thin Lizzy songs, even when he has to settle for a poorly executed cover version.  The acolytes of the Divine Miss M likely aren’t his cup of tea.  Rock on, Fox!  And when you do, remember what Sammy says:  “There’s only one way TO ROCK!”


Copyright Jeff Lewis, 2004