Wednesday, February 01, 2006

In Local News

Pross-coasted at The Armorican Treat

We note with pleasure and no small pang of hometown pride that the voters of the 33rd District of Virginia have elected Mark R. Herring (D), a slow-growth advocate for Loudoun County, over the vile and avaricious Mick Staton (R), whose own mother still bears Hummer tire-marks from a storied occasion when she stood between her osculatory offspring and a land-raping developer's proffered bum. One hopes that one sees Portents, Harbingers and Omens in the voters' mood. Could it be that Virginia's voters have fallen out of love with the notion that their right to a bulldozer-free ambiance and a commute of less than three hours' duration ends at precisely that point at which William "Til" Hazel's pustulent checkbook begins?

We can hope.

The very same issue of the Metro Section of the WashPost that carried this gladsome tiding also noted that Virginia has inched a few steps closer to the adoption of the 19th century sea chantey "Shenandoah" as the "interim" state song. Never mind that the song has nothing whatever to do with the Shenandoah River that bathes the ridges a short canoe-ride from where I type this; references to the "wide Missouri" in the lyric are dismissed as so much diversionary piffle. "Shenandoah" it shall be. For now. Until we pick a real state song. Not the one written by sausage maggot magnate Jimmy Dean.

Trouble is, I don't get what all the fuss is about; why replace the existing Virginia State Song? Some years ago, some candy-assed do-gooder suggested that a tune with the lyric

Carry me back to old Virginny,
There's where the cotton and the corn and taters grow,
There's where the birds warble sweet in the springtime,
There's where this old darkey's heart am long'd to go,
There's where I labored so hard for old massa


has some sort of racist implications, but I'm blowed if I can find 'em. Must be a Black Thing, I wouldn't understand.

At any rate, every few years we make rumbling noises about replacing the old bombastic Natural Anthem with something less martial. "This Land Is Your Land" and "America the Beautiful" are frequently bruited about as suitable replacements for Francis Scott Key's convoluted yet bloodthirsty gabfest. I'm all for simplification, but why not simplify all the way? Instead of a lot of contentious hoo-ha about Endless Skyways or Purple Mountains' Majesty, why not eliminate lyrics altogether? Generations of grateful schoolchildren would thank us for freeing them from yet another empty set of words to recite.

And I don't know about you, but I simply adore the idea of a ballpark full of patriotic Americans standing as one body, doffing caps and covering hearts, as the loudspeaker intones, "Ladies and Gentlemen... Please rise for our Natural Anthem..." And what comes out of the public address as we all stand to attention? Thelonious Monk's "Straight, No Chaser." Or maybe Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys' "Osage Stomp." "Take the A Train." "Watermelon in Easter Hay." Oooh! Coltrane's "My Favorite Things"!

I'd have a lot of respect for a country that did that.

10 comments:

fgfdsg said...

At least you don't live in a country where the suggestion of changing the National Anthem to the story of a singing, sheep-stealing, suicidal drifter has been seriously considered.

20 years from now, mark my words, we'll probably be singing Men At Work's horrid "Down Under", (their lead singer was a scotsman, brogue and all).

My Personal Choice? No question about it - "Yummy Yummy Yummy". Imagine the 20,000+ strong crowd rising before a rubgy game, yhen all moaning the intro in time.

Let's face it, sporting events are the only place Anthems are sung any more anyway.

bunny said...

Virginia will never top NJ's state rock song.

Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we’re young
`cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

I should write a song. "Virginia is for lovers, unless your name is Loving". Or aarzwl.

Highlander said...

Virginia, Virginia!
O, your ducks and lions
Virginia, Virginia!
Your grim myrmidions,
A state that's great must compensate
the light of reason when it's dying
Virginia! Virginia!
Your astroturfed gridirons!

Now someone write five more verses like that, throw some orchestral music in behind it, and you're good to go, by golly!

Or, fukkit, just give up the ghost, throw in the towel, capitulate to the will of the masses, and adopt that Billy Joel song about Come Out Virginia and Only The Good Die Young. Come on. You know you want to.

Say. Send me a check. This versifyin' is hard damn work.

Bob Dwire said...

Back in 1968, or perhaps '69, Bob and the bunkmates under his charge decided it would be a hoot to expose Twin Lake Camp at flag-raising one morning to Jimi's Star Spangled Banner. So we practised our drill, to be first in line at some other sappy bunk's flag-raising, which gained us the privilege of lowering the needle onto the record the next morning.

And then we did it, and those glorious soaring notes (Cue Neddie the musicologist) came screaming out of the girt-big Tannoy speakers and the entire parade ground convulsed with joie de vivre.

I tried, in my poshest "Brit over here to give your camp a bit of class" tones to explain to the Camp Director (one Bing by name, if you can believe that) that I was trying to invigorate what had become a tired and unimportant tediosity, giving it relevance to the young, etc etc.

And he bought it!

jvknplij we sniggered.

Bill said...

Although "Straight, No Chaser" is inspired, I'd like some consideration given to Chuck Berry's "Back in the USA".

Kevin Wolf said...

Keep dreaming, Neddie. I'll back you on this.

I also dig the Cuck Berry idea.

Anonymous said...

According to Michael Frayn, Tibet used to have "God Save the Queen" as its anthem, because the bandmaster had been trained in India and assumed that it was the tune everybody played at state occasions.
Someone tipped him off, and Tibet switched to having one and a half minutes of silence, followed by a slight bow.
Very classy.

There's a Bruce Sterling story in which a revolutionary explains what he's fighting for: "You know the Hendrix version of the Star-Spangled Banner? Imagine a nation where that really was the national anthem."

Employee of the Month said...

The stadium rises to the playing of the new and improved national anthem - Frank Zappa's "Gumbo Variations". 17 minutes later the amount of leg cramps and beer-fueled urinary incontinence would be beyond measure.

cckcklqe

helmut said...

Monk, Coltrane, or Bob Wills any day. But I'm kind of partial to The Beatles' White Album masterpiece, "Piggies." We could all sing along, hotdogs in hand.

Neil Shakespeare said...

I'm kinda surprised you're having such a hard time. Can't you lift something from 'Pocahontas'? I'm sure Disney wouldn't mind. Isn't there a song in there like, 'The Wind Beneath my Ass' or something?