Keeping faith with music, humor

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

Register/Richard Luken
Jim Rausch’s parody of Garth Brooks’ “Friends In Low Places” bemoans the fate of long-suffering Kansas City Royals fans. Rausch grew up a Cubs fan and has since grown fond of the Royals after he moved to Kansas.

Jim Rausch isn’t one who believes in curses.
The pastor of Iola’s First Presbyterian Church isn’t much for superstition, either.
Still, it’s unsettling that no matter where he lives, it’s home to a losing ball club.
As an unabashed lifelong fan of baseball’s Chicago Cubs — and more recently, the Kansas City Royals — Rausch has come to grips with watching a team’s hope for success fall repeatedly short.
“Maybe there’s not a curse, but there does seem to be a culture of ineptitude — with both teams,” Rausch surmised Friday.
There was a glimmer of hope this year in the heartland.
With a seemingly overpowering pitching staff, young stable of hitters and a light’s-out bullpen, the Royals thought they were on their way to a pennant race.
An 18-11 record by the end of April had fans buzzing.
Was this the year?
Could Kansas City erase 24 years of bungling with a magical run to October?
The following 17 weeks of errors, injuries and poor pitching provided an emphatic answer to the negative.
The dog days of summer have come and gone to see the Kansas City Nine firmly planted in last place.
“At least the Cubs fans say ‘Just wait until next year,’” Rausch said. “I’m not hearing any of that with the Royals.”
So Rausch, like any dedicated fan, sought solace as best he could: with humor.
“When you’re this bad, you cope in all sorts of ways,” he joked. “I either had a flash of insanity or inspiration. I can’t tell which.”
Rausch has combined his love of music, baseball and Garth Brooks with a parody of Brooks’ classic “Friends in Low Places.”
Rausch’s posted his version of the song, dubbed “Royals Lament — Low Places” to YouTube this week, the online video sharing Web site.
The idea for “Royals Lament” came one sleepless night — probably after another frustrating loss — Rausch recalled.
“And I don’t play golf,” he continued. “Music’s my hobby.”

RAUSCH CHOSE “Low Places” because the song is played on Kaufman Stadium’s gargantuan video screen shortly before every Royals home game.
“I just wonder if ‘Low Places’ is a song you want fans to hear when your team’s this bad,” Rausch joked.
The music for the song came via Rausch’s high-tech Yamaha clavinova — the centerpiece of the church’s newly upgraded sound system — a digital keyboard capable of recreating and mixing all sorts of musical sounds.
It’s also Internet accessible, allowing Rausch to download the background music.
It took all of about three hours to put the lyrics to paper, and another day or so of research to ensure recording the song wouldn’t violate any copyright laws.
“As long as it’s clear the song is a parody, it’s OK,” Rausch said.
Rausch supplied the vocals, admitting, however, that his voice wasn’t the best.
He finished the song on Monday.
“I thought it was a cute song, but I didn’t really have any way for it to be heard,” he said.
Any qualms about the song’s reception were answered after his daughter, Jennica, heard it.
“My daughter’s only comment was that she wanted it for her iPod,” Rausch said. “As the father of a teenager — where everything I do is automatically square — that made me feel like it was a pretty good song.”
He e-mailed the song to a couple of friends but realized making it available to the masses meant going further online.
He decided on YouTube.
Rausch used Microsoft Movie Maker, “which I think everybody has on their computer nobody knows how to use” to create the video.
“The video is really just something I threw together,” he said. “I just want people to hear the music.”
The video is available by entering “Royals Lament” in YouTube’s search bar. “Don’t forget the ‘S.’ Otherwise, you’ll get ‘Royal Lament,’ an opera,” Rausch said.

RAUSCH’S LOVE of baseball came as a child in Marengo, Ill., about 70 miles northwest of Chicago.
Rarely did a summer afternoon pass without a Cubs game on television, he recalled.
“I used to joke that Jack Brickhouse (Hall of Fame broadcaster) was my babysitter,” Rausch said.
With his love of baseball came a love of God, although Rausch’s original career path led him to broadcasting.
During and after college, Rausch worked for an Illinois television station for eight years, up until the point that he was the station’s program director.
“But by then, it was pretty clear that God was calling me into ministry,” he said.
Rausch entered seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1995. He was graduated in 1998 and moved to Iola that same year.
His love of baseball never waned. Because of Iola’s proximity to Kansas City, Rausch developed an affinity for the Royals.
“Maybe I brought the Cubs’ curse to Kansas City,” he said, tongue in cheek. “They haven’t won much since I’ve been a fan.”
He looks at his devotion to both teams as any fan would — with diplomacy and bemusement.
“At least I can root for losing teams in both leagues now,” he said.