(NASHVILLE, TN) -- Independent recording artist Rockin' Rich Lynch found himself at the Green Hills Mall in Music City earlier in the year where he soon came across that establishment's latest enticement to attract more visitors - a pickleball court taking up prime real estate in a well-trafficked wing of the shopping plaza.
"Initially, the idea struck me as ridiculous because there seemed to be an inherent danger in mixing commerce and athleticism in this manner," said the songwriter about the moment inspiration arrived to turn his encounter into a song. "But, there was a sign posted that said play 'pickleball at the mall' and I realized that was a potential song title and this place was a destination for some of Nashville's top entertainers and talent. So the thought was to write about it before anyone else did."
Lynch called upon life experience and began formulating verses for the 4 minute and 24 second track almost immediately upon seeing the set-up for the nation's fastest rising participation sport right there in the confines of the shopping center.
"I grew up in a mall in Paramus, New Jersey when my father purchased a Hickory Farms style franchise when I was only five years old," recalled Lynch. "When normal kids my age where outside enjoying regular play time activities with their friends I used to bring a tennis ball and bounce it off of the top of the awing over the Lord & Taylor for hours at a time. I have experience in the field and it's safe to say I was probably a bit of a menace at the time."
How did the singer/songwriter/musician best known for tackling controversial topics and subjects pulled from the paranormal and political worlds find himself composing a track about the growing game with the funny name?
"Well, the fact of the matter is that I might have taken a too serious approach to my music over the years," Lynch confessed. "I have a lighter side with dozens of lyrics that are more comedic in nature. But, this is the first time that I have really recorded a project with the main focus being placed on the humor behind the situation at hand."
However, the idea behind the song is actually a pretty serious one in itself as economic decline has taken a toll on several of the nation's largest malls with many actually closing up shop in recent years.
"It is the God's-honest truth that the day after I exited the recording studio and wrapped up the vocal mix in Nashville that news broke about pickleball and malls via several high-profile media sources," Lynch said about the serendipitous possibilities for the track moving forward. "Both CNN (America's fastest growing sport is coming to your mall [05/15/23]) and Deapdspin (Pickleball at the mall? Sounds like a good time for all. [05/14/23]) recently posted feature articles about the impact pickleball is having on abandoned commercial retail spaces across the country. So, the timing for this track might actually be perfect - and, that suits me just fine."
Lynch brought the quirky idea and placed it into the competent hands of producer Dallas Jack of Record One studios in Nashville with one directive - to let the spirit of classic Southern Rock lead the way. Once completed characteristics of punk and 80's influenced gothic pop found their way into the mix along with some fairly complex thoughts about playing pickleball in a mall.
"I noticed right away at Green Hills Mall that a Crate & Barrel was situated directly across from the court. So I immediately began thinking about a match gone awry and what the implications of that might be," said Lynch walking us through his songwriting process. "Then, I wanted to put in the perspective of shoppers and store owners who might not want to share their space with crazed pickleball aficionados. So, we touched upon a lot of the issues that could come up in the song."
Pickleball is an indoor or outdoor paddle sport where players compete in singles and doubles matches. The game utilizes a racquet, hollow plastic ball and a smaller tennis style court and net. The sport is known for its unique high pitch ping that occurs during serving and volleys. The COVID-19 pandemic is thought to have delivered a boost to the game's popularity as people sought alternatives to indoor activities. Pickleball ranked as the fastest growing sport in the United States for two years in a row in 2021 and 2022. Experts predict participants will increase ten-fold to over 40 million players by the end of the decade with many of those games perhaps taking place in a mall or former commercial retail space.
Rich Lynch is a singer/songwriter who began his professional recording career in 2014 with "I Want to Live in a Dome". He has now released over 40 critically acclaimed digital singles to the online marketplace and he is currently hard at work in Nashville on several new tracks that will see the light of day in the near future.