May 20, 2022

OPINION: The Nationals need to bring back Chuck Brown

Dear Washington Nationals (attn.: Valerie Camillo):

In your eleventh year after returning to the District of Columbia, I was saddened and confused when you changed the home run anthem at Nationals Park from Chuck Brown’s timeless “Bustin’ Loose.” Its selection as the home run song back in 2005 was a nod to the District’s long history as a music city with its own regional variety, and the importance of local culture associated with crafting the identity of the Nationals in local lore.

“Keep what you got, ’til you get what you need,” is how Chuck Brown starts the 1978 go-go masterwork that found wax in 1978 and spent some time in the Top 40 in 1979. The horn hits and that glorious backbeat are a celebration of a whole class of music that is local to the DC region, especially to the part of town where the Nationals now play.

I’ve watched hundreds of homers leave Nationals Park, and before it, RFK Stadium in the last 10 years, and to hear each of them be serenaded by The Soul Searchers’ horns and the Godfather of Go-Go made me feel close to my city’s immense history. If there’s one thing DC has, it’s local history. Baseball history, civil rights history, music history, jazz history, go-go history.

To move to Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj’s “Bang Bang” (whose video was shot in, and stars, New York City, seems like the sort of move that abandons the local culture of the District in favor of something bland and acceptably “popular”.

One thing I love about sports is that sports are the last remaining home for civic religion. Sure, some people treat local politics that way, but not all places do. You can unabashedly love your sports team because it’s a personification of your region, and a lot of teams carry on the traditions of their city as standard bearers. I think here of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and their incredible traditions, from the Terrible Towel, to “Here We Go”, to “the Steelers Polka”. I have come to love the Nationals as my civic religion, and for the last ten years, Bustin’ Loose has been my touchstone for DC at baseball games.

Yes, Ben’s Chili Bowl will continue to be at Nats Park repping the half-smoke, and for that I am grateful. There are beer stands that feature favorites from DC breweries, and for that I am grateful. But to take away Chuck Brown from the celebration at Nats Park, and to replace him with something overproduced and generically pop-y, is to say that DC’s music culture just isn’t there.

I won’t let that stand, and I don’t think it represents the best that the DC area has to offer. The Godfather of Go-Go belongs on the PA at Nats Park, as Bryce Harper or Ryan Zimmerman or Michael Taylor (eventually) round the bags. The Godfather of Go-Go represents an incredible can-do spirit of the Go-Go form, and it represents DC having a good time.

It’s time to bring Chuck Brown back to Nationals Park, Ms. Camillo, and Tuesday is plenty soon enough. Nats fans across the DC area can sign a petition to tell the Nationals that Chuck Brown belongs at Nats Park. Just like fans told the Nationals it was what they wanted back in 2007.

“Keep what you got, ’til you get what you need,” Chuck sings. The Nationals are still building their franchise. They’ve got to keep what they got ’til they get what we all need. Go back to Chuck Brown. Keep what you got ’til you get what you need.

Tom Bridge, Staff Writer (Nationals)
District Sports Page

About Tom Bridge

Tom Bridge is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Nationals. Tom has been in love with baseball since he was 10. He is a founding editor of We Love DC, where he covered the Nationals and Capitals as a credentialed writer for four seasons. He grew up as an Oakland Athletics fan in the Central Valley in California, where he learned to appreciate Bill King, Mark McGwire and even Tony LaRussa. By day, he is a partner at Technolutionary LLC, where he handles IT operations. He cannot abide the Cardinals. You can follow Tom on Twitter @TomBridgeDSP.

Trackbacks

  1. […] of your region, and a lot of teams carry on the traditions of their city as standard bearers,” he wrote Monday. “To take away Chuck Brown from the celebration at Nats Park, and to replace him with something […]

  2. […] may have heard that “Bustin’ Loose” is no longer the home run song at Nats Park. Tom Bridge at District Sports Page wants you to know sports is a form of “civic religion,&#822… and wants the Godfather of Go-Go back. (There’s even a petition. Because […]

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