Sunday, July 04, 2010

Sing Along, Pop

A long while ago it was fashionable to make lists on one's blog of one's pet peeves. Some people even had regular days of the week for sharing something that was bugging the shit out of them. Now everyone apologizes for being too negative. We make lists of things we're grateful for and make sure to thank everyone for listening and post photos with big, wide grins on our faces.

Both ways are good.

It's just that if I had a regular day of the week for this shit I'd be able to tell if I'd ranted about this one particular pet peeve of mine before. I despair (truly, despair) that no one sings the national anthem anymore. I sit at baseball games or in hockey arenas, I watch the Olympics and I'm belting it out with John Amirante and it feels as though it's a duet.  There's a combination of apathy and letting flash-in-the-pan celebrity singers interpret (read: fuck up) the song has shut most spectators up. It pisses me off about regular citizens but it enrages me when sports figures who hear the tune 162 (or so) games a year don't bother to learn it. It's a good song, it's not that complicated, it's the country's motherfucking anthem and they play it all the time so get on the stick already, OK America?

When I was a kid Arthur Fiedler conducted the Boston Pops (aka The Boston Symphony Orchestra). He did so almost until he keeled over at the podium so I got to grow up watching his particular brand of musical insanity all the time. My parents were music educators at the time, watching the closest available orchestra was a no-brainer. Eventually Seiji Ozawa took over and he was truly insane, in a great way, but I was also a teenager and eventually I stopped seeking the Pops out.

If you've been around her any length of time you know that I am head over heels in love with every molecule of Craig Ferguson. Even the part that's about a million times smarter than me. Maybe especially that. I didn't have plans for tonight, which was fine with me, and I happened to see an ad that said that Craig was hosting the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. Apparently he's been doing this for a while. Who knew? On an impulse I decided to DVR the presentation and watch it on a little tape delay to avoid commercials. (I know, I'm what's killing television, don't remind me.)

Just about smack dab in the middle of the spectacular there's a "patriotic sing along" with the orchestra. All the celebs leave the stage and the band plays a number of old favorites and the crowd is expected to sing along (with the aid of judiciously distributed programs). Craig stands sheepishly near the VIP crowd, shoulder to shoulder with Toby Keith and they, of course, veterans of USO tours, know all the words to Yankee Doodle, God Bless America, This Land is Your Land, America the Beautiful, It's a Grand Old Flag and everything else. The audience around them is seeded, I'm sure, and is largely made up of active duty military families and they all know the words and are singing with gusto. But then they pan away to the regular folks and there are teens belting out these songs in a kick line, and old ladies and, my personal favorite, a girl of maybe 6-years-old reading along in her program and not missing a syllable. Also not sharing the program with what looks to be her little sister, but her singing was awesome so I'm giving her a pass about the not sharing.

I cannot tell you the paroxysms of relief that seized my heart upon seeing this. So, I finally believe there are enough of us on this bandwagon. Now all we have to do is make this like the Breck commercial and teach two friends and they'll teach two friends and so on and so on and so on....

What about you? Are you willing to sing along?


  1. I work at a school...I have to sing along, even though I can't sing. I apologize to everyone who's near me. But the kiddies know how to sing it! It's not lost!

  2. We hold these truths to be self evident:
    There should be no electrical instruments in the Pops.
    The National Anthem in NOT to be "interpreted."
    And Finally:
    He who goes Forth with a Fifth on the Fourth, may not go Forth on the Fifth.

  3. I have no idea if it will make you feel better, but we - the entire Chili clan (including the senior Chilis), the entire Bowyer clan, and Meadmaker sang along to the (terrible, likely Disney pop-girl version of) national motherfucking anthem (love that!) last night at the fireworks.

  4. The anthem gives me chills and tears almost every time, and I love to sing it. But I have big issues with people (specifically Christians) basically worshiping country . . . And that gets mixed up in a messy tangle with the anthem, hands over hearts, pledging allegiance, and rabid patriotism. Plus the underlying stories of greed, evil, that were going on while we were watching ramparts and all that. This is a confusing holiday for me. I sure do love that song, though.

  5. Craig also did a couple of sold out stand up comedy shows while he was in Boston...I was lucky enough to go Friday night!

  6. Re: the anthems at ball games - I accept both singing along with the anthem as well as remaining silent during the performance. Hootin' and hollerin' for the performer riffing through "The land of the free," however, is Right Out and deserves major thwacking.

    The Boston Pops are always a joy. If you don't already have it, Allan Sherman's version of "Peter and the Wolf" ("Peter and the Commissar") is an absolute must-own, especially the second half (side 2 on the old LP), where Fieldler contributes a vocal hiccup to "How Dry I Am" to the rapturous applause of a live audience

  7. LisaWinks3:00 PM

    Kizz, I followed you here from TWC. Love your writing. I too absolutely adore Craig. I've got a mad, married woman crush on the old fellow. (okay, so he's not old, just a few yrs older than me) It's the one show my DH and I watch together.

    I would love to sing along to the National Anthem but when you're trying to sing along with some twit who likes to "make it her own", it's a large bit annoying. Then there's the part where I end up crying everytime I hear/sing it.