Happy Birthday, United States of America. 235 today, I believe. This one’s for you.
As everyone knows (although if you’re American and under the age of 30 you might not, according to a recent poll, which begs the question: What do teachers think they’re playing at these days? I’m joking, of course. I think I probably wound teachers up quite enough in the last post. I’m not being smug either; some rather dim-witted British kids apparently think Winston Churchill was the first man to set foot on the moon, which I suppose is slightly better than thinking him a jowly insurance hound), the fourth of July commemorates the approval of the Declaration of Independence: a beautifully written list of charges against the British king, George III; serving as justification for the colonies splitting from the motherland and becoming an independent nation; as well as a stirring reminder that everybody has inherent, unalienable rights, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” among them, and most famously of all, “That all men are created equal”.
The historic Declaration inspired other nations to similarly cast off their colonial shackles for the better. Although its signing may not have been completed until August 1776, today’s date has long been accepted as the official anniversary of US independence and a rightful cause for much celebration and national pride.
What for us now? Songs that mention an American town, city or state either in title or lyric? Did it last year. Songs about independence? Did it this year, sort of, in honour of South Africa’s Freedom Day. I’ve already officially declared, and will not take no for an answer, after careful consideration of your suggestions, that the very finest male vocalists hail from the US side of the pond (just because of Sinatra, basically).
So, admittedly clutching at straws here and because I’ve always thought ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ a most striking piece of writing: songs which stir pride and patriotism within your soul. Translations of and the history behind your country’s anthem (official or unofficial), and whether or not it means anything to you personally, would be interesting. Each American state has its own anthem, I understand, so I’m curious to discover if your state song is held closer to your heart than the national anthem. And which anthems do you just so happen to like? If you’re a sports fan, you’ve heard plenty of them and a good tune is still a good tune even if the accompanying words are wasted on you.
For the fun of our imaginations, which anthems require the Hendrix treatment, as demonstrated famously and most ably at Woodstock back there? I remember Brian May belting out ‘God Save the Queen’ from the top of Buckingham Palace in honour of Her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. Which guitarist should you like to witness attempting his or her national anthem from a suitable monument of your own crazy choosing? James Dean Bradfield for me. From anywhere except a castle, really.
Thank you very much for an enjoyable and thoughtful discussion about strike action last time. Enjoyed that.
The chatroom will be open tomorrow from 1pm (UK), if you’ve time to spare.