SAN FRANCISCO – The chords and the melody came easily to Tim Flannery. The lyrics came even easier.
Getting through the song without tearing up? That was the hardest part.
“All those emotions and feelings would come back, and I’d start to lose it,” said Flannery, the Giants’ beloved third base coach, whose “21 Days” is a paean to his club’s improbable run to the 2012 World Series title.
Tim Flannery and the Lunatic Fringe will belt out “21 Days,” and many more original songs, in a series of concerts this week to benefit the family of injured Giants fan Bryan Stow. They’ll perform at Fox Theatre in Redwood City on Thursday, Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley on Friday, Uptown Theatre in Napa on Saturday and Kuumbwa Jazz in Stow’s hometown of Santa Cruz on Sunday.
All proceeds will benefit the Stow Foundation.
“I like to shine a light on it and I know the money helps,” said Flannery of Stow, who sustained brain damage after he was assaulted in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on opening day, 2011. “They have a big hill to climb, and for me, I get inspired by their family. Not only did Bryan’s life change in the blink of an eye, but all his family and his caregivers changed. Seeing how they came together, they inspired me to be a better family man.
“Me, I’m just playing music. It’s just a pleasure to be able to do anything to help out.”
Music always has been a pleasure for Flannery, and an outlet away from baseball. He brings his guitar on Giants road trips, often playing in hotel stairwells. He’s been on stage with plenty of heavyweights, including Bruce Hornsby, Dwight Yoakum, Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt, Jimmy Buffett and George Thorogood.
“I’m not going to get on a bus and tour the world, though,” Flannery said. “I do that already.”
When the ride ended last season, Flannery was inspired to write a song about it. He begins his countdown with Game 3 of the NL Division Series in Cincinnati, when they faced an 0-2 deficit and almost certain elimination. Manager Bruce Bochy used the Old Testament to fire up the team in a pregame meeting, then right fielder Hunter Pence got darn near Pentecostal as he delivered the first of what became many impassioned sermons.
“And 21 days later, we were in a pretty nice World Series parade on Halloween,” Flannery said.
Their playoff run included six elimination victories against the Reds and Cardinals before a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers.
As Flannery sings it:
“Then I heard a band of brothers/Singing destiny’s our call/History will be changed tonight/With our backs against the wall.”
Flannery played the song on a mandolin in studio for CSN Bay Area.
“It’s a lot different with the full electric guitars,” Flannery said. “It’s almost like a good, fighting, Irish pub song with the full band.”
And it captures the team’s fighting, never-give-up spirit.
“I knew the odds before us/And I didn’t stand a chance/Jokers started smiling/Queen of hearts danced her dance/Over in the corner/The barkeep offered up last call/All I need is a little hope/When my back’s against the wall.”
“We slammed through Cincinnati/And in Missouri we had to show/ That every breath we ever take/Has a purpose if its own/In Motown we found magic/And together we grew strong/21 days that forged is through/Our backs against the wall.”
Flannery expects the team, which returns almost totally intact, to have that same spirit when pitchers and coaches report to spring training Feb. 12.
“I know they will be,” he said. “Once you taste it – the last out and nobody left to beat – there’s nothing like it.”
What about baseball and music? If Flannery, who has recorded 12 solo albums, had to give up one of his passionate pursuits, which would it be?
He answered that question with another.
“Air or water?” he said, smiling. “Which would you pick?”