I’m nothing if not a man of routine.
Of my routines, none holds a dearer place in my heart than my Saturday morning grocery store runs.
For the past few years, I’ve dragged myself out of bed at an ungodly (and frankly, unnecessary) hour every Saturday to stock up on groceries for the week.
During the summer, this ritual of bleary-eyed shopping can be downright arduous, particularly on those oppressively humid July and August mornings. Seriously, no one should sweat pushing a cartful of groceries from the entrance of the store to his car at 7:30 a.m. No one.
In early September, something changes.
There’s a buzz in the air as my fellow early birds zip through the aisles of the store, exchanging knowing nods of approval at one another’s T-shirts and sweatshirts.
Selections in the beer aisle are sparse.
Strangers excitedly chat at the deli counter, inappropriately using the word “we” as they discuss possible year-end trips to such glitzy destinations as Pasadena, Miami or — when worse comes to worse — Memphis or Charlotte.
All of this can mean only one thing: Football is back.
To celebrate the return of our national obsession, I initially considered creating a playlist of great college fight songs, but how many times can you put “Indiana, Our Indiana” on an eight-track playlist?
That question might as well be rhetorical because the answer, of course, is not enough.
No, instead, I’ve crafted a list of songs for your tailgate, a time-honored tradition also celebrating its return to our lives this fall.
Music is as integral to a great tailgate as the food and the beer.
If you’re blaring Journey or Toby Keith through your car speakers or iPod dock, you might as well serve your guests cut-rate hot dogs made of possum feet and goat snout or cheap swill “brewed” by some massive global conglomerate that spends more time creating new packaging for its crappy beer than improving its quality.
There’s no need to advertise your bad taste in a parking lot of fellow fans and more than a few cute girls if you’re doing it right.
Go with these eight songs and own the lot:
• Dr. Dog, “My Friend” — One of the great rock songs of the last five years.
• Elvis Costello, “Pump It Up” — A perfect song for any party. You need only to know three words to sing along to this classic.
• Frightened Rabbit, “Nothing Like You” — The irony of picking a song by a Scottish band to celebrate the return of America’s favorite sport is not lost on me but this song is undeniably catchy.
• The Gaslight Anthem, “Orphans” — Few bands produce a sound as distinctly American as this New Jersey quartet.
• Nada Surf, “Blankest Year” — The first line of this song says it all. (WARNING: EXPLICIT LYRICS)
• The Hold Steady, “Massive Nights” — The party song to end all party songs.
• The Fratellis, “Chelsea Dagger” — Listening to this song and not having a good time is like sneezing with your eyes open. Impossible.
• Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, “The Mighty Sparrow” — A song that never lets up.
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