Thursday, December 3, 2009

Name that Tune!

Commenter tiob and I were emailing the other night about what song in America really captures America. Obviously, "The Star Spangled Banner" and "My Country 'tis Of Thee" are very American, but we're looking for something other than an essentially patriotic song...something other than the obvious......the kind of song you'd find Americans unable to resist breaking into song with if they were in Europe, for example, and heard a band suddenly bursting into this tune.

Tiob wrote me:
I was watching clips of Andre Rieu play some traditional folk songs. When he played Hava Nagila, it made me wish I were Jewish. When he played Kalinka, it made me wish I were Russian. When the crowd was singing along to famous excerpts from Verdi operas, it made wish I were Italian.
So, if you weren't American, listening to what song would make you wish that you were? A song that makes you think of America right away. Not necessarily overtly patriotic, but something you'd consider part of the American heritage.

What song is immediately identifies with America for YOU? Any suggestions?

z (and tiob!)


Faith said...

I can only think of Yankee Doodle which would not particularly inspire me for America when in a foreign land, and America the Beautiful which would, but is in the category of patriotic.

Faith said...

This land is your land, etc? Too leftist.

DaBlade said...

Yankee Doodle was my first thought also as instantly recognized as American. I also like the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Beth said...

God Bless the USA, Lee Greenwood

Elmers Brother said...

Anchors Aweigh brings a tear to my eye but it's not about America necessarily

Always On Watch said...

"The House I Live In (That's America To Me)":

What is America to me?
A name, a map, or a flag I see;
A certain word, democracy.
What is America to me?

The house I live in,
A plot of earth, a street,
The grocer and the butcher,
Or the people that I meet;
The children in the playground,
The faces that I see,
All races and religions,
That's America to me.

The place I work in,
The worker by my side,
The little town or city
Where my people lived and died.
The howdy and the handshake,
The air and feeling free,
And the right to speak my mind out,
That's America to me.


The words of old Abe Lincoln,
Of Jefferson and Paine,
Of Washington and Jackson
And the tasks that still remain;
The little bridge at Concord,
Where Freedom's fight began,
Our Gettysburg and Midway
And the story of Bataan.

The house I live in,
The goodness everywhere,
A land of wealth and beauty,
With enough for all to share;
A house that we call Freedom,
A home of Liberty,
And it belongs to fighting people
That's America to me.

The rest HERE.

I cry every time.

Anonymous said...

Boondocks works for me. Dixie, too. Copeland's Simple Gifts, a variation on a Quaker Hymn, or his Hoedown from Rodeo? I give up. None would bring an American to his feet like the Le Mersaillaise.

Anonymous said...

...some Gershwin, either Rhapsody in Blue or an American in Paris? Anything but ducky's favorite...

Ducky's here said...

Charlie Poole - White House Blues

Buell Kazee - The Waggoner's Lad

Bently Boys - Down on Penny's Farm

Wilmer Watts and the Lonely Eagles - Been on the Job Too Long

Jim Jackson - Dog Blue

Memphis Jug Band - K.C. Moan

Blind Lemon Jefferson - See that My Grave Is Kept Clean

Dock Boggs - Country Blues

The Carter Family - Single Girl, Married Girl

Henry "Ragtime" Thomas - Fishing Blues

Bascom Lamar Lunsford - Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground

The Carter Family - Little Moses

Williamson Brothers and Curry - John Henry

Burnett & Rutherford - Titanic

Blind Willie Johnson - John the Revelator ...

It's infinite. Damn, we built a great folk music. One thing this country did absolutely spot on right.

Ducky's here said...

...course I didn't even get to Woody.

Ducky's here said...

Good choice Farmer, anything but brain dead Andre Rieu.

Cat doesn't swing.

Linda said...

God bless the USA by Lee Greenwood

beamish said...

What song is immediately identifies with America for YOU?

"Hair of the Dog" by Nazereth :P

FrogBurger said...

I'd say God Bless America. But for me it's the national anthem that I love the most. It's just a beautiful anthem. I'll remember the first time I had to stand up for it, listen to it and put my hand on my heart, that made me tear up. I just wish I had the voice to sing it.

Much better than La Marseillaise which is way too military and bloody.

Anonymous said...

Stephen Foster:

1. Old Folks at Home

2. I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair

3. Beautiful Dreamer

4. Old Black Joe

Edward MacDowell:

Woodland Sketches:

To a Wild Rose
Uncle Remus
An Old Trysting Place
From a Wigwam

Victor Herbert:

1. Ah Sweet Mystery of Life!

2. Toyland

Jerome Kern:

1. Old Man River

2. You Are Love

Rogers & Hart:

1. My Funny Valentine

Rogers & Hammerstein:

1. That Was A Real Nice Clambake

2. When The Children Are Asleep

3. Oklahoma

4. I'm Just a Girl Who Cain't Say No

5. When you Walk Through A Storm

Leroy Anderson

1. Sleigh Ride

2. The Syncopated Clock

Willy Nelson:

1. Georgia On My Mind

Aaron Copland:

1. Appalachian Spring

2. Rodeo

Charles Ives:

1. The Fourth of July (Tone Poem)

George Gershwin:

1. Concerto in F (piano and orchestra)

2. Porgy and Bess (Opera)

Douglas Moore:

1. The Ballad of Baby Doe (Opera)

Samuel Barber:

1. Adagio for Strings

Peggy Lee:

1. Fever


Alberta Hunter
Billy Holiday
Mabel Mercer
Bobby Short
Ella Fitzgerald
Sarah Vaughan
Margaret Whiting
Kate Smith
Nat King Cole
Mel Tormé
Eileen Farrell

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

erratum - Shaker, not Quaker, above.

Another toe tapper or anything from the hills.

I guess most of our American music is "regional". If you were a teenager from the East Bay in the 70's, you couldn't help but love this.

Ducky's here said...

"Early in the morning, sometimes late at night
Sometimes I get the feeling that everything's alright
Early in the evening, sometimes in the day
Sometimes I get the feeling everything's okay

Name me a song that everybody knows
And I'll bet you it belongs to Acuff-Rose

--------- Uncle Tupelo

No Subject said...

Neil Diamond's "America"

Anonymous said...

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy by the Andrews Sisters!

This is all such good music, though.
Jazz, swing, folk, bluegrass music. I love it all.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

- God Bless the USA, Greenwood;
- Take Five, Dave Brubeck

Yeah, I know, odd dichotomy.


Anonymous said...

Toby Keith...Red White & Blue!!

FrogBurger said...

On a different note, the phone Al Gore who should be prosecute, is cancelling his trip to Copenhagen. I guess he's too worried about the carbon emission of the plane now!


cube said...

For me, it's got to be the National Anthem, but I prefer it sung in the more traditional way and not oversung like so many performers do nowadays.

The way my daughter sang it at a recent football game at her school. She did a bang up job :-)

Z said...

What a great bunch of songs...Thanks for this.

I personally think you can't beat Yankee Doodle or Dixie...

and love the idea of God Bless the USA by Greenwood, too (you should have seen my preschoolers sing it last Spring, you'd have cried, too)

Anchors Aweigh is a good one, Elbro.

FreeThinker..great list.

Oh,doorbell..I'[ll be back!!

EDGE said...

God Bless the USA, Lee Greenwood

Chuck said...

God Bless America for certain.

I always thought the City of New Orleans by Arlo Guthrie was America. It's a journey through the midwest night and celebrates/mourns the passing of the railroad, which built the country.

The lyrics are here:

Anonymous said...

God Bless the USA by Greenwood and American Soldier by Toby Keith!

beamish said...

Nice to see Ducky has expanded his musical tastes beyond Massachussett's Bee Gees and New Kids on the Block to include Uncle Tupelo from the St. Louis area. I wonder if he likes Son Volt and Wilco....

Brenda Jean said...

My daughter heard Chuck and I talking about this and she has her opinion. She said America the Beautiful first, and had that "Duh, of course" look on her face. Yankee Doodle Dandy, Battle Hymn, and I'm sorry but I really do love This Land is Your Land. I sang it in choir when I was a kid:)

Anonymous said...

God Bless the USA, I agree.

Yankee Doodle Dandy

Grand Old Flag

America the Beautiful

Battle Hymn

There are too many to pick just one. I love them all.


beamish said...

Battle Hymn of the Republic is my all time favorite hymn.

I particularly like the Christian metal band Stryper's version of it. Michael Sweet has some pipes!

Anonymous said...

If I found out that "Battle Hymn of the Republic" or "God Bless America" were sung without me, I'd feel left out.

Is it me, or do these American anthems have more of a tone or reverence. I picture these songs being sung in a church or in a concert of patriotic music. Not so much in a tavern or at a soccer game as La Mersailles. And the American songs are sung without dancing and clapping. Am I right, or is that just my perception?

Seems like Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" should be mentioned. That one does make you want to clap along.

I'm also thinking "From the Halls of Monctezuma...."

I'm also thinking I should know more of the lyrics to these songs.


Anonymous said...

Johnny Horton's "Battle of New Orleans"?


sue said...

hail to the chief

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten all about "When Johnny Comes Marching Home".


Anonymous said...

tiob - [From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, we will fight our country's battles on the land and on the sea

First to fight for right and freedom, and to keep our honor clean, we are proud to hold the title, The United States Marines.]

I'm sorry to say it's been so long since I sang it I hope it's correct. This is from memory a long time ago.
Where's Mustang when we need him? I'm sure he'll correct me if I've erred.

Then there's The Caison Song - The Army

Or, Off we go into the Wild Blue Yonder, The Army Air Corps (now the Air Force)

Anchors Aweigh - Navy

Grand Old Flag - [It's a grand old flag, it's a high flying flag
and forever in peace shall she wave

She's the emblem of the land I love, the home of the free and the brave.

Every heart beats true under red white and blue and with never a boast or brag
should auld acquaintance be forgot
keep your eye on the grand old flag]

These were among the first songs I learned as a small child. It's been fun jogging my memory. Like I said I hope I have not made too many mistakes.

Brings back lots of memories as my family sang these wonderful songs while my Grandmothr played them on the piano.


Brenda Jean said...

I can't believe I forgot When Johnny Comes Marching Home and Your a Grand Old Flag. I love those too!

Anonymous said...

I like Woodie Guthrie.

No Guthrie = No Nugent

Anonymous said...

Scott Joplin
Art Tatum
Glenn Miller
Tommy Dorsey
Jimmy Dorsey
Benny Goodman
Bix Beiderbeck
Les Brown and His band of Renown
The Modernaires
Spike Jones
Louis Armstrong
The Andrews Sisters (thanks, Jen)
Frank Sinatra
Bing Crosby
Tony Bennett
Judy Garland (The boy Next Door)
Helen O'Connell (Tangerine)
Hoagy Carmichael
Betty Hutton (His Rocking Horse Rode Away)

42nd Street
Tea for Two
California, Here I Come
Isn't it a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain?
Cement Mixer Potty Potty!
Ghost Riders in the Sky
She's too fat for Me
Moonlight In Vermont
Baby, It's Cold Outside

Dvorak: The New World Symphony

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

How could we forget Somewhere Over the Rainbow? If I Only Had a Brain? -- a Heart? -- some Nerve? The Merry Old Land of OZ?

It Might as Well be Spring

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

White Christmas

Silver Bells

Winter Wonderland

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

All I want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

Try to Remember (The Fantasticks)

Deep Purple (Peter de Rose)

My Ship (Kurt Weill)

Guys and Dolls (Frank Loesser))

1. If I Were a Bell
2. Luck Be a Lady Tonight
3. Adelaide's Lament
4. Bushel and a Peck
5. Take Back Your Mink

West Side Story (Bernstein)

Wonderful Town (Bernstein, Comden & Greene)

Anonymous said...

I guess my point in listing so many songs, artists and musical works of all kinds is that a piece of music doesn't have to be specifically about America to be American.

There is a spirit -- a character -- that is unique to what we USED to be that comes out in all the varied selections I mentioned. Most every popular song, musical comedy, Jazz, and certain symphonic and operatic works that arrived before the Sick-sties were infused with this special character.

The Sick-sties destroyed all that and transformed the popular culture into something coarse, rude, vulgar, rebellious, angry, spiteful, cynical and perennially childish.

Before the Sick-sties our music was romantic, sentimental, whimsical, funny, naive, often silly, often energizing, always reassuring and often child-like, but it was never insulting, undermining, brutal or deliberately destructive.

Remember the 1952 movie Royal Wedding with Fred Astaire, Jane Powell, Peter Lawford and Sarah Churchill?

The zany song and dance number "How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You, When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life?" is quintessentially American. It makes you want to get up out of your seat and and start moving while laughing your head off, yet it's also a demonstration of tremendous skill, talent, and expert training.

That's just one example among hundreds.

Cole Porter's Anything Goes and You're the Top are other good examples. We used to have a unique way of blending clownishness with romance that made everyone smile and feel oh-so-much better when they left the theater.

The timbre of our benighted times is like a perpetual invitation to commit suicide.

Enjoy the great treasury that is our past. Much of it is preserved in silly old movies for which I thank God every day.


~ FreeThinke

Z said...

I*'d like to pick the Best Top Five here, but they're all such good examples!

FT, some of yours aren't quite those most Americans would know the words to, but they're good!!


Anonymous said...

And if you want pure patriotism in a song, remember Hail Columbia. It's been around a very long time, but isn't much in fashion now:

Hail, Columbia, happy land!
Hail, ye heroes heaven-born band,
Who fought and bled for freedom's cause,
Who fought and bled for freedom's cause,
And when the storm of war was done
Enjoy the peace your valor won.

Let independence be our boast
Ever mindful what it cost
Ever grateful for the prize
Let it's altar reach the skies.

Firm, united let us be
Rallying 'tound our Liberty
As a band of brothers joined
Peace and safety we shall find.

~ Joseph Hopkinson (19th century)

We used to sing that in grade school. You have to remember, dear Z, that I am almost old enough to be a living antique. And I'm very happy to remain out-of-date for the foreseeable future. ;-)

Here's an irreverent version of an old seasonal greeting you won't find on any Hallmark card:

Have one hell
Of a good Noel!

~ FreeThinke