We're all Giants: Ashkon

Photo courtesy of Ashkon

It's been over a month, but at KALW News, we're still celebrating the San Francisco Giants' World Series victory. We're not kidding, either – this Thursday's Crosscurrents will be all about the team, the torture of being a Giants fan and, of course, the indescribable sweetness of a World Series win. To prepare for the show, we spoke with fans all around the Bay Area to get their best Giants fan stories – like SF Weekly’s Joe Eskenazi, San Francisco District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly, KALW’s morning announcer Joe Burke and Hall of Fame broadcaster Jon Miller – to get their best Giants fan stories. Here’s one from Ashkon, the singer/songwriter who wrote what would become the Giants’ World Series playoff anthem, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

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ASHKON: So, the idea for the video. It actually happened, I was … I had been talking to these guys that were filming a web series called “White Collar Brawler.” And they had reached out to me, they had seen an old video of mine: “Hot Tubbin’ on the Late Night,” which was a little viral success as well, a few years back. You guys should check that one out, have a laugh.

But the guys from “White Collar Brawler” called me and, you know, they wanted to do a fun video. And it was actually, initially, they kind of had the idea to do something about, like, kind of the tortured Bay Area sports fan. Because things had been getting pretty bad over here for a little while, and then, but you know, maybe our only hope was the Giants.

And man, after like, kind of a little back and forth, we decided to just make it a Giants playoff anthem, which is kind of what I was pulling for. Because I’m a huge, huge Giants fan. But even once we decided that, we had no idea what we were going to do for the anthem. I had to do a lot of different kind of music, I’ve done a lot of hip hop stuff, but I’m also a singer/songwriter. Initially, I was going to have kind of a hip hop angle – I had a whole rap written about the Giants. And it was cool, but it wasn’t the thing. It didn’t ever really feel like, “Yeah, this is it.”

At one point I was actually going to sample “Don’t Stop Believin’” and do a hip hop song over that, but that wasn’t really working. And then I was listening to the original, and there’s the line, “Everybody wants a thrill.” And that reminded me of Will “the Thrill” Clark. So it all kind of came full circle, and I was like, “Huh.” You know. And that was like the first line that I heard of, you know, what if I just do a straight remake, but make all the lyrics Giants, but just sing it really, really heartfelt. It’ll be kind of funny, because I think singing about that fandom in such a heartfelt way is kind of funny by itself, but that’s like the humor and also the, the ... it’s the heart behind sports, you know, is how much we do care. You know? So anyway, we went that route. And it ended up kind of capturing all that. Which is one thing that made people latch onto it so much.

The ride from the first day that we dropped the video into the place where it went was completely insane. It was, I mean, to have the Giants continuously winning at this same time, it was just such a complete dream-world. It just, it was so crazy. (laughs)

You know, one story, I kind of like to tell was the day we dropped the video, we released the video. It was Game 3 of the NL Division Series with the Braves. It was right after that game. But it’s interesting how that came about.

So we had filmed the whole thing during Game 1 outside of the stadium in just a couple hours. (laughs) It was pretty funny. We had a lot of trouble getting people to be in the video, you know. They were in their pregame mode, really pumped for the playoffs. And we just looked like a bunch of schlubs with a camera and a boom box. We were trying to get people to sing some of these lyrics. Had to be probably about one out of every 10 people we talked to actually wanted to participate, if that. So, that was kind of difficult.

But we got it done. We got all the shots. We worked really hard to edit it the next few days. And we wanted initially to have it done before Game 3. But it was having trouble uploading to YouTube. There was some glitch. It kept failing and failing, and so the game starts. And this was the game that I don’t think – I’m really, really adamant about this. I don’t think the fans or the media have made a big enough deal about this Game 3 in the division series, I don’t know if it was because it was the Division Series or what, but that game was like the whole frickin’ thing right there. So, you had Sanchez throwing this 1-0 gem. I remember at one point, the video finally had uploaded, and ... and we were going to, the other guys were ready to drop it. “We just got to drop it.” We were getting worried, we had put in all this work, and who knows? We weren’t going to have any time for anybody to see it. The season’s, you know, going to be close to over. Who knows?

So anyway, we’re clinging onto this 1-0 lead. They’re like, “Should we drop it?” I’m like, “We can’t drop the video now! Sanchez is throwing a no-hitter! It’d be tacky! Can’t jinx it!” All of that. So we end up holding on. We’re holding on. Eighth inning. 1-0. Holding on. I’m pacing, you know, and I’m talking to my brother the whole time. He’s up in Washington, and we’re just stressing on this game, and we’d just lost the night before on a heartbreaker. That was the home run from, God, what’s his name. Ankiel. Ankiel! Who’d already broken my heart eight years ago when he was throwing those wild pitches for St. Louis, ‘cause I was rooting for Will Clark to win a Series before he retired.

Anyway, so it was like this ... so ridiculous. Anyway. So we were coming off that loss, and then eighth inning, we’re clinging to that 1-0 lead and Henske hits that homer. The two-run shot off of Romo. And I’m just ... I mean, everything sunk. Everything sunk. It was, “Here we go again. What did I do to deserve this? Why? I guess this is just how it is. I guess this is going to be my life as a sports fan. As a life. As an individual. I don’t know what I’ve done, but maybe there’s some lesson behind this.” It was all that all over again.

So much, so much, so much pain. And then the ninth inning is not talked about enough. That was insane! Down to two outs. You know, Ishikawa works that walk. And then Sanchez, you know, flailing at those first two pitches. Two strikes, you know. The whole thing is done! And he flails again at another one and just jacks that ball up the middle and there’s still life. I remember my brother said, “Hey, you know, we’re still in this.” I said, “Oh, God, I can’t believe you’re getting your hope back up.” Don’t stop believin’, right?

So ... so ... so then, then uh, you know, I get off the phone right after I told my brother, “Come on, don’t get your hopes up. And, and I, I run downstairs and I grab my rally thong from the video. I’m like, “Come on, Aubrey! Let’s go!” And, man, sure enough, he fists that thing to right field, and then, you know, we tie the game. And then Posey hits the ball through Conrad’s legs, and uh ...  Whew! The rest is history. And so we win that game, and immediately after that game, I press “click.” Giants 2010 Playoff Anthem: “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Do you have a Giants fan story you'd like to share? Email us at news@kalw.org. And tune in to KALW 91.7 FM this Thursday, December 16 at 5 p.m. for an entire half-hour of Giants stories.