We’re in the middle of March Madness, so take a look at the story behind the classic song that is set to a montage of tournament highlights after the title game every year. If you don’t know the song, well, you should. Listen below. If you do know it, it’s everything that’s right about sports and life. From the New York Times sports magazine Play:
The Great Cornball Anthem
One moment, not exactly shining: It’s 1986, and in a bar in East Lansing, Mich., a woman approaches a struggling folk musician named David Barrett. “A waitress,” Barrett recalled last year, “too beautiful for words. What do I say to this woman?” He panics, glances at the TV, sees Larry Bird “using someone like soap.” So he starts talking about Larry Bird, “how amazing he is, blah blah blah.” The woman is unimpressed. Barrett slinks out of the bar, thinking that he might write a song about basketball, and a phrase pops into his head, out of nowhere, and the next morning he sits down for lunch and scribbles on a napkin the great cornball anthem that, two decades later, still makes grown men cry.
“One shining moment, it’s all on the line,” goes the first chorus. “One shining moment, there frozen in time.” Barrett’s song is a kind of “Taps” for the college basketball season, played annually over CBS’s closing montage after the N.C.A.A. championship. Barrett, who now has a successful career writing music for television, calls “One Shining Moment” a “sky song.” He said, “They just drop out of the sky and whoosh right through you.”
A few months ago, Barrett got an e-mail message from a fan of the song: the waitress who had spurned him. She teaches high school now in East Lansing. “She was teaching transcendentalism, and the boys weren’t getting it,” Barrett said this week. “So she started telling them about transcendent moments in athletics.” Naturally, she mentioned the song. Barrett went on, laughing: “I asked my wife if I could ask her out on a date. She said, ‘No, too late.’ “
(Tommy Craggs is a regular contributor to Play.)
The 1998 version of the song, chosen at random*, from YouTube:
And if you don’t think this shot will be included in the year’s version, you’re nuts:
*May or may not be true.