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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

January 4, 2011 at 12:45 PM

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Thinking about Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' rap tribute to Dave Niehaus, "My Oh My"

Posted by Andrew Matson

MyOhMy2.jpeg
Image via Macklemore's blog

"My Oh My" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (download here)


Capitol Hill rapper Macklemore's new song "My Oh My" is about Dave Niehaus, longtime Mariners sportscaster and one of Seattle's great voices. Niehaus died recently, and for many Seattleites, self included, it was like losing a combination grandpa, uncle, father figure.

But not for all of us. Probably not, for example, a sizable chunk of Macklemore's fan base. Plenty of adults like Macklemore's music, but his bread and butter is the under 21 crowd, same as Seattle's most popular group, Blue Scholars.

Those Seattle-area rap fans who don't know Niehaus or aren't into baseball will most likely enjoy "My Oh My" anyway, because it sounds like lots of Macklemore's hip hop: orchestration borrowed from indie rock — Ryan Lewis is more "musical director" than "DJ" — and speaking-level raps with audible breathing between words. Macklemore fluctuates the volume in his delivery to indicate emotional drama.

One minute it's bucolic house-life — "Dave Niehaus' voice would echo throughout the yard [...] might as well have been God's" — and the next it's "Edgar's up to bat / bottom of the eleventh inning / got the whole town listening / 'Swung on and belted!'"

Macklemore grew up in Seattle listening to Mariners games when the team went from nothing (the '80s) to something (the '90s), a Griffey-sparked arc that was impossible not to get sucked into if you lived in Washington State. Naturally, he has formative memories built around the intersection of the team with his life. Niehaus is a neo-Norman Rockwell voice in those memories, and for a maker of sentimental music and lionizer of local lore like Macklemore, the tribute is a bit of a no-brainer.

However successful "My Oh My" is by mine or anyone else's criticky standards, the fact that it made me seriously think about what Niehaus meant to me is a testament to the power of emotional storytelling, and the fact it explains Seattle history to a younger generation is positive for Seattle overall.

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