Day of Wrath!
Where do we go from here?
Oh, that’s right: THE stadium. To play the Yankees who are coming off of a ten-day winning streak. Who have their Rocket back on the launch pad. Who have their SWAGGER back.
God help us.
I don’t have any suggestions…not that anyone’s asking me.
I’m not looking to point fingers at anyone. I hope the players themselves don’t start doing that either; that NEVER helps.
I don’t possess any special amulets or prayers or a lucky rabbit’s foot…nor am I superstitious enough to believe in the effect of any such bunk.
I have had one observation, though, about the Mets this season that–while I won’t go as far as saying this particular item is CAUSING them to lose, removing this from their pre-game regimen would certainly cause no harm and its omission might right the ship.
This thing that I have noticed has been going on all season, actually, well before this slump. I’m talking about the choice of music–accompanied by a fast-moving New York City video montage–just prior to the Mets taking the field.
My guess is most fans probably think of this theme–which is played at every home game–as just kind of a "let’s get revved up" kind of rhythmic music. In fact, while this rap song is playing, I have often watched the players, primarily Jose Reyes and Ruben Gotay, practice their elaborate congratulatory handshake routines and "pumping up" in general for the game.
But I went online to find out more about this musical selection, I found out what perhaps many of the players and fans already knew about it: Juelz Santana featuring Just Blaze recorded the song for a Nike ad–"Second Coming"–shown during the 2007 AFC and NFC championship games. That ad, featuring the music we all hear at Shea for every home game, can be seen here.
But what I’m guessing many fans and the players and managers might NOT know is that the instrumental on this rap song was sampled from Franz Liszt’s Totentanz ("Dance of Death") which had in turn been inspired by the Dies Irae (literally, "Day of Wrath")–whose origins lie in 13th century plainchant.
The melody was later incorporated into the official Catholic liturgy for the Latin Mass for the Dead.
Many classical composers have used the text of the Requiem Mass, including the Dies Irae portion, to beautiful effect. My personal favorites are the Verdi Requiem and the Mozart Requiem.
Also, many classical composers have directly quoted the motif, e.g., Hector Berlioz in the "Witches Sabbath" portion of his Symphonie Fantastique, Mahler in his Second Symphony, Camille Saint-Saens in his Danse Macabre, and Rachmaninoff in several compositions, including his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, as well as countless other classical music references.
According to one site, there seem to be a number of pieces of popular music that incorporate the melody as well. And for even more history on the Nike ad and the hip-hop group performing the selection and the various versions of "Second Coming", another blogger and commentators have discussed this same topic–unrelated to the Mets’ slump, of course–here. (As there is no direct permanent link, you’ll need to scroll down to "Monday, January 22, 2007 – ‘In which David is confused by The Second Coming.’")
The text of the Dies Irae portion of the Mass is not uplifting nor comforting, let me tell you:
Dies Iræ! dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla
Teste David **** Sibylla!
‘Day of Wrath! Upon that day, the world will melt in the twinkling of an eye, as David prophesied and the Sibyl!’
Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando judex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discussurus!
‘What trembling is to come, when the Judge appears, to judge all strictly.’
Tuba mirum spargens sonum
per sepulcra regionum,
coget omnes ante thronum.
‘The trumpet, casting a wondrous sound through the tombs of all nations, compels all before the Throne.’
Mors stupebit et natura,
**** resurget creatura,
‘Death and Nature shall be astounded, when creation rises again to respond to its judge.’
Those last lines, "when creation rises again", can definitely be connected to the "second coming" reference. In other words, it appears to me that the producers of the Nike ad were aware of the dies irae reference.
My guess is that the Mets chose this rap song thinking that anyone who knew of the Nike ad and it being called "Second Coming" might make an association with the Mets something along the lines of, "Wow! We got SO close in 2006! But this year, we’ve assembled a lot of the same guys, tweaked things a little bit, and we’re going to come back and do it all again. You just wait and see! The trumpets will sound and the Braves and other teams will be left in the dust heap on Judgment Day!"
I guess that’s one way of interpreting it.
But lately, I can only anticipate going back to Shea on Monday and hearing that song as a death knell. For our outfield. For our team. For the NLDS.
I know: it’s only a rap song. But with its religious overtones, its direct associations with the mass for the dead, "day of wrath", "day of terror", the Apocalypse, visions of heaven and earth consumed by ash, etc., MAYBE it’s time to talk to the Media Department about some other high-octane entrance music.