"The ball is tipped
And there you are
You're running for your life
You're a shooting star
And all the years
No one knows
Just how hard you worked
But now it shows ...
In one shining moment, it's all on the line
One shining moment, there frozen in time."
For millions of college basketball fans these lyrics represent the end of yet another NCAA Basketball Tournament.
The past 2 1/2 weeks have brought us last-second shots, intense overtime games, and most importantly, the human experience.
Monday night, after the game ends, the champion celebrates, and the interviews conclude, and everyone awaits a ritual like no other. CBS puts together a highlight package of the tournament to the song of "One Shining Moment." It offers college basketball fans one last look back at the tournament's defining plays.
Among the thousands of fans in attendance at the championship game is a single fan whose creativity began this basketball phenomenon. His name is David Barrett, a musician from Michigan.
Last month I talked with David by phone from his studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Barrett is an accomplished musician whose success includes Emmys for scores to such documentaries as "The Magic Never Ends" about writer C.S. Lewis and "Beyond the Gridiron" on football coach Woody Hayes. His acquaintances include Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.
It is a far cry from Barrett's beginnings. He grew up in the northern part of the Detroit metro area near Pontiac in the late 1960s where a cloud of "unspoken loss of potential and possibilities" hung over his life. Friends and classmates were involved in drugs and crime. Some of them have died through the years.
Basketball was Barrett's escape. "Basketball saved my life," he said.
Barrett was an accomplished basketball player in high school. The Wall Street Journal once described him as a "high school basketball star." Barrett said that was because "I scored a bunch of points."
In explaining how basketball helped him through this time, Barrett told a story about the time he was shooting foul shots, and a car pulled up with a bunch of teenagers, some of them he knew. They asked him if he wanted to join them. He declined and continued to shoot free throws. The group was later busted by the police for drugs and criminal mischief.
Upon graduation Barrett played basketball at Albion College in south central Michigan. He majored in philosophy because he said he "processed the world in those terms." He studied philosophers like Georg Hegel and Friedrich Nietzsche.
At Albion, he hurt his ankle, derailing his playing days. However, he was still able to play soccer and was later inducted into the Albion Sports Hall of Fame for his soccer skills.
Barrett's life took another turn after college when he decided to become a musician. He traveled around "playing at any smoky, funky bar."
One day at a bar that no longer exists in East Lansing, Mich., home of Michigan State, he was sitting with the bartender when a waitress came over to talk to him. Barrett said she was a "goddess."
He described the situation as imagining the most beautiful woman in the world coming into the room and what do you say to her?
Naturally, Barrett made small talk about basketball legend Larry Bird who was having a great game on TV. And, just as quickly as she arrived, the waitress quickly left.
The conversation made Barrett think about Bird and his ability to "be in that state of mind" during a basketball game. His song's title, "One Shining Moment," immediately came to him.
The next day Barrett was waiting on a friend for lunch. The friend was late. Barrett began jotting the lyrics down on a napkin. The song was pure inspiration and quite a departure from his music at the time. Barrett said his music during this period was intended for "beatnik art professors."
He sent some of his music, including "One Shining Moment," to a friend and she recommended that he record it. At first he was hesitant. He had been writing "depressing" songs. "One Shining Moment" did not fit this mold. After some persuading, he recorded it.
Recording the song didn't mean instant success. Time passed. He was living in New York City where, at a party, he was introduced to sports reporter Armen Keteyian, whom he had once played high school basketball against in Michigan.
Keteyian was able to get CBS interested in the song. However, it was originally intended for the 1987 Super Bowl, not March Madness. Instead of the opening lyric "The ball is tipped," Barrett said it would have been changed to "The gun goes off." As fate would have it, the Super Bowl went long and the song never played.
At March Madness later that year the song was introduced at the end of the tournament. When asked how he felt about the initial airing of the song, Barrett said, "It's Christmas in April. It's like being a journeyman fighter all your life and then you get a shot to fight Muhammad Ali."
"One Shining Moment" is now 19 years old and has gone through several versions. The original song had Barrett as the singer. In the mid-1990s Teddy Pendergrass did a recording. Later in 2000 CBS had Barrett do a slightly enhanced version of the original.
In 2003 the late Luther Vandross recorded his own track, the final song of his career. The Vandross version is the current song played by CBS. Barrett is enthralled with the different versions, saying each is unique. He is honored to be associated with Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross.
Since the success of "One Shining Moment," Barrett said his teenage daughters, Ester and Claire, are his greatest achievement. He has set up the rights of "One Shining Moment" into a trust for them.
Barrett enjoys college basketball because most of its participants play because "of the innocent passion of the game." He says in Michigan it's "heresy" but likes both Michigan and Michigan State.
Regarding America's love affair with brackets, this year his daughters "forced" him into fill out a bracket and it will be a "family feud" to see who will win.
He has attended a few of the recent Final Fours. At the end of the game, Barrett looks at the players still on the court, looking at the big screen, watching the highlights and listening to the song.
Scenes like that matter. It shows that despite how jaded sports can be portrayed, these scenes of empathy and emotion still show true feeling for the game. Barrett describes "One Shining Moment" as "the wedding song for basketball."
Reflecting on the song, Barrett says it "ceaselessly amazes me" on its enduring popularity. As the years have gone by and the song has woven itself into the fabric of March Madness, he says the song illustrates "basketball as a metaphor for life."
As Barrett and his family stand among the crowd as the song plays Monday night, there is no doubt he has his "One Shining Moment" every day in bringing joy to college basketball fans across the country, being an accomplished musician, a doting husband, and a loving father.
Trevor Williams, sports copy editor, can be reached at 855-5866 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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