Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Happy Independence Day!
May I make a confession? And this is a bit sacriligious as a Murlander. If I got to choose our national anthem, it sure wouldn't be The Star Spangled Banner. There are so many great patriotic songs out there to choose from! Don't just listen, sing along. Yes, you! I don't care if you think you can't sing well. Crank up the volume, and belt it out with as much enthusiasm as you can muster. Great attitude is contagious. Sing as long as you know the words and hum or harmonize those you don't. And listen thru. See how much depth there is to the later verses. I have so many favorites. How to choose? But if I were forced to pick one for national anthem, I think I'd go with O Beautiful. Although Ray Charles sings verse 4 first, I think he has the best version. And hey, learn verse 4! It's a good one! I've always loved Irving Berlin. What an immigrant success story! What an incredible volume of work1, and did you know he only played on the black notes? He devised this under-piano modulation lever, no midi in those days, to accomodate different vocal ranges. So his God Bless America is a very close runner-up for me. And when Kate Smith was looking for something appropriate to sing in this setting, he pulled it out of a drawer where it'd been abandoned by him years ago. And Irving Berlin has never claimed a cent of royalties off it; they all go to a particular nonprofit that, back then, was much less controversial than it has been of late. (Don't comment on it. Just enjoy the song.) 1 Arrivals at Ellis Island are greeted by Lady Liberty, who bears a plaque engraved with The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." Irving Berlin wrote a song for that one, too, but although the words are stunning, the music's pretty terrible. Oh well. Not everything's a Blue Skies kind of a hit. Then there's The Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic I think part of why I like this version is because there are such strong harmonies. Once an alto... And that great Woodie Guthrie classic, This Land is Your Land, sung here by Peter, Paul, and Mary. Ah, patriotism swells in the heart of the American bear. And, although lyrically lacking, Stars and Stripes Forever remains the most singalongable of all of Sousa's marches. In this particular version, watch and see how the backdrop changes to reflect the varied interests of the lead singers. So, how about you? What would you choose for the national anthem?