I’m sure Ryan Parker would love to release an album of songs that
sold a few million copies. Maybe even a few of those songs would
involve material that didn’t focus on sports. But for hundreds
of thousands of people visiting You Tube, his sports songs and
videos are not just hysterical… they represent the main reason
you may be familiar with his name.
me, it was two particular songs that brought Ryan to my attention.
The first was when an e-mail arrived from a friend linking me
to the “Go Gillooly” video. This song happens to be a favorite
of mine, because I absolutely admire what Ryan has done with it.
In the middle of the 2007 season, whispers turned into media reports…
someone was going to get upset with Tom Brady and the Patriots
for running up the score every week. Maybe they’d even hurt him
on purpose. Using the quarterback’s famous relationship with Bridget
Moynahan, and uniting it with the Tonya Harding incident, Ryan
creates a scenario where someone might attack Brady and get Moynahan
named the suspect.
long after, I was listening to Steve Somers on WFAN out of New
York. If you visit this site often, you know I call Alex Rodriguez
by the more appropriate name, A-Fraud. Ryan had just posted a
song about A-Rod called “Been Caught Stealing” that focused on
the celebrated opt-out clause and subsequent contract demands.
web site, Ryan Parker Songs*, contains lyrics
and material from his efforts. But one of the most amazing things
about Ryan might be found over at You Tube. The song garnering
the most notoriety is “Shady Brady and Bill Belicheat,” which
has been viewed an astonishing 428,000+ times as of this writing!
Ryan’s web site is no longer active. His songs can be found
by doing a search. Generally your best bet is to base any initial
effort around Ryan Parker Songs Shady
Brady, which should put you in the right area.
professes a passion for the Cincinnati Bengals, Cincinnati Reds
and Kentucky Wildcats. You’ll find those teams and their rosters
are a constant source of inspiration for him. But he also finds
time for the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Cowboys,
Notre Dame and Michigan State to make frequent appearances in
been on radio… television… internet sites… and newspapers. And
he even writes the occasional song that doesn’t focus on sports.
I’m grateful to Ryan for giving us some of his time for a “Lucky
~ ~ ~
me a little bit about your musical background. What instruments
do you play? Did you ever take any structured lessons and how
long have you been playing?
“runs in my family” so to speak. My grandfather, Ray “Curly” Parker,
played the fiddle for Bluegrass legend Bill Monroe. I picked
up guitar when I was 16 years old so I have been playing for almost
20 years now. It’s the only instrument I have ever learned to
play. I never took any structured lessons. I pretty much just
taught myself by playing along to whatever was on the radio at
the time. Of course, I picked up a lot of tips and tricks by playing
with other good musicians over the years. That has helped out
a lot as well.
How did you get started writing these sports-themed songs
and how long have you been creating them? Where do you find your
influences for material?
guy I work with at my “day job” as a software engineer came up
with the idea of the sports-themed songs. I have written a lot
of songs over the years and had gotten into the habit of making
my fellow workers listen to them. At the same time, I always talked
about sports as well so it seemed like a novel idea to combine
the two. I wrote my first one right around the beginning of 2006.
It was about the success the Cincinnati Bengals had been having
at the time. I posted the song on some message boards and got
a positive response. From that point, one song turned
into another and so on. I started out just writing about my favorite
teams, but now I try to write about the hot topics of the time
in the world of sports.
I ask the influences question for two reasons. Number
one… you cover so much ground it’s obvious that it’s more than
whatever is in the news on a particular day. Number two… I recall
that someplace you named Ohio teams (Cincinnati Bengals and Reds)
as two of your favorite professional teams. Knowing that explains
how the Bengals, the Reds, and their players are some of the more
common subjects of your efforts. The thing is, two of your songs
are “Shady Brady and Bill Belicheat” (“…bringing Gatorade to Brian
Griese…” is hysterical… it’s also a great song… over 425,000 views
at You Tube alone… congratulations on that) and “Been Caught Stealing”
(which is about Alex Rodriguez). Boston and New York… and their
players… are right up there on any list of common sources of material
for you. Frequently we hear about a big-market-bias to reporting
or media coverage. Do you believe in that type of scenario where
the larger cities are magnets for coverage? And… not really knowing
how to phrase the question… is there a reason why some of these
media-favorite subjects seem to cross over into your work, even
though they aren’t necessarily your favorite teams or people?
(I suppose it could just be the sheer sadistic enjoyment of the
stories that draws you to them and motivates you, and I could
use your lyrics to back that claim up, but I’m wondering if it’s
more than that alone.)
are correct in that my two favorite teams are the Cincinnati Bengals
and Cincinnati Reds. My favorite college team is the Kentucky
Wildcats. I like writing about these teams in particular because I
have followed them for as long as I can remember. However,
when I made the decision to start concentrating on writing about
the most popular sports stories of the time, I did start
writing about the larger market teams more often. I saw that
something more might be possible with my sports-related songs
when the “Shady Brady” song received so much attention. That
is when I decided to write about more popular topics and
write more frequently. I do believe that the larger East coast
cities such as New York and Boston receive much more
attention in the national media, as you can tell from the headlines
most days on ESPN. This fact has drawn my attention to them when
coming up with topics for songs. If I want to get noticed more
as being the “sports song guy”, it’s a far better idea to write
about the New York Yankees than it is to write about the Kansas
City Royals! That being said, I still try to remain true to myself
and write what I believe. For example, I really always have cheered
for the New York teams and the Los Angeles Lakers when it comes
playoff time since my Cincinnati teams are rarely there.
For the most part, I’m guessing it isn’t a stretch to
believe the subject matter and lyrics come first when you write.
That said… what is your writing process like for these songs?
Do you do much research into the material? The first work of yours
I truly became familiar with was “Go Gillooly,” which is another
great effort. It deals with Brady during the regular season, and
how if someone hurt him intentionally it might get blamed on the
former girlfriend (thus the reference to Gillooly). This is probably
analyzing it on way too many levels, but the work you do really
has a creativity and depth to it.
song generally does start with a topic or idea. There have been
a few fortunate times when the whole song will just come out at
once. I will hear the first line in my head, grab a pen and paper,
and write the entire song down in one sitting as it flows out.
I really like it when that happens because it’s a lot less work!
For most songs, though, I begin with an idea and try to think
of a twist to the idea to make it more interesting for the listeners.
Then I will jot down a few lines or words that come to mind that
convey the idea I will be trying to express in the song. From
there, it’s a matter of “putting the puzzle” together. I do try
to always make sure I am factually correct about everything I
say in my songs. I feel like I would lose credibility to some
extent if I release songs with factual errors.
What is the full process for you like? And by that I mean
walk me through what it’s like to write the song… how you record
it… and then what you do when a video gets put around it.
is an interesting process because of my low budget operation!
As I said, I write the song first. I make sure I am happy with
all of the lyrics since I consider that to be the focal point
of my songs. I will take great pains going through thesaurus.com
and rhymer.com to make sure I am using the words I want to be
using. Then, I will set the song to music. This involves me picking
up the guitar and strumming through some chords that I feel
match the lyrics and mood of the song. This has been one
of the tougher parts lately as I have increased the frequency
of writing. I don’t want all of the songs to “sound the same”,
but it is difficult to accomplish this with just me and my acoustic
guitar. I try to mix in different chord patterns and rhythms as
much as is within my ability, but I do find this difficult at
times. Then I sneak off to either the closet where I use the clothes
hamper as a makeshift microphone stand or the garage to record
the song. I try to not disturb my wife and children with the recording
of the songs so this is why I head off to my own places in the
house! I record the song using Audacity, free audio recording
software, and my Radio Shack microphone. I am no wizard when it
comes to using the software, so I have to get the songs right
in one take. That makes it difficult at times, but I do OK for
the most part. It can get frustrating, though, when I get to the
end of the song and hit a bad note! After I get the MP3 file saved,
I head to work on Google searching for images that fit the song.
I find all of the images first and then use Windows Movie Maker
to set the pictures to the music. That’s it… the whole process
from beginning to end.
What kind of feedback do you get about some of these songs?
I’m guessing occasionally a person or two that is a fan of a team
is… umm… a bit less than enthusiastic about your work. Any
great stories about things you’ve encountered?
people that have been the least enthusiastic about my songs are
the Boston fans when I wrote the “Shady Brady” song. I received
many, many emails from them making sure I had a “day job”… and
those were the nice ones! I also received a lot of negative emails
from Kentucky fans earlier this year when I wrote a song describing
how awful they were doing at the start of the season. I had
written nothing but positive songs about Kentucky before so people
didn’t appreciate me “turning on the team”, although I didn’t
see it that way. I was just being honest. For the most part,
though, I have received much more positive email regarding
the songs than negative… even from Boston fans.
You seem to be getting busier every time I check out your
web site. How much do you work on music without a sports theme?
And what are some of your plans for the future?
don’t really work on my other music any these days. I have made
the decision to commit myself to trying to get my sports-related
songs noticed and give up on my other songs. Since I cannot spend
time touring and promoting the songs, this is an almost exclusively
(with the exception of a few radio and TV appearances) an Internet-based
effort. No matter how great any of my songs might be (not saying
that they are), no one is going to email one of my other songs
about life or love out to all of their friends! They will, however,
email a song about their favorite sports team or player. This
produces the “viral marketing” effect that I depend on. As for
the future, I hope to achieve success with my sports-related songs.
I want them to be viewed as commentary on the sports world set
to music. Essentially, I want to be a “columnist” of sorts for
a major sports-related website. I have started doing this recently
as I am going to be releasing one song per week on Heavy.com.
I just hope the endeavor grows, gets more viewers, and allows
me to turn it into a “day job”. I realize it’s a long shot, but
at least I won’t grow old and be someone telling my kids
and hopefully grandkids about what I “could’ve done”. I’ll
know for sure… either I did it or it didn’t work!
~ ~ ~
want to offer a special thank you to Ryan Parker for participating
in this “Lucky Seven” offering.
Ryan’s web site is no longer active. He has posted several songs
on the web, usually in places like YouTube. In order to avoid
confusion with other artists, any search for his material is usually
best done by expanding the search string to include some of his
song content (such as: Ryan Parker Songs Shady Brady).