Monday, January 5, 2009

Anthems For The Stadium

Just sitting and listening to music can bring on thoughts of improving the world.  I have wondered recently about updating the moldy oldies that people sing at baseball and football games.  I don't mean to replace the National Anthem, of course.  That uniquely unsingable anthem stands as the supreme challenge to singers young and old, strong and weak of mind or voice.  

Even if you can remember the words, you really can't remember where to breathe.  Not that anyone would fault you for breathing before "see" in the first line.  Nor will  anyone fault you for sounding as if you are being slowly impaled when you sing "free" after an ill-considered breath in "land of the free."  That, too, is expected.  The singer of the National Anthem is expected to suffer greatly during the task and to emerge alive, though seldom victorious.

Bad style and bad technique do not mar our love of country.  We have heard so many spectacularly bad renditions that we have come to accept them as a part of our Heritage.

So leave the National Anthem alone and let it survive serial attempts and assaults by one and all. I have in mind other opportunities for updating the music at our sports events.  I envision the replacement of a moldy oldie like "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" with something really suited to the lungfull of air you can take after five beers, several hot dogs, a plate of melted cheese product with traces of corn chip, and many bags of popcorn or peanuts.  What I would much rather hear is a chorus of 40,000 fans singing either of two Three Dog Night hits from the Golden Age of Polyester, "Joy to the World" or "Shambala."  Yes, I really mean it.  Imagine the joy of thousands of people singing the much easier words and tune of Shambala:

Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain
With the rain in Shambala
Wash away my sorrows, wash away my shame
With the rain in Shambala

These are confessional, hopeful, wholesome sentiments made into prayer with the three-part harmony of Ah-ah-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo, Yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah!  After several choruses of that, they'll all be primed for an astroturf-melting shout of "HOW DOES THE LIGHT SHINE in the halls of Shambala?"  People will be so happy they will forget that the teams have resumed play.  Verily, if the beer hasn't intoxicated you, the singing of that Ah-ah-oo-oo chorus will do the job!

I think the Cardinals organization should take this seriously.  I think our government should take this seriously.  I am seldom happier when chiming in with a song than I am when I sing this great rock anthem, Shambala.

There are certain songs that every adult should know by heart.  Especially in these hard times, we should all know the timeless one by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Free Falling."  That's the tune for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve, the Stock Exchanges, and the hyper-compensated thieves who have been pushed out of the aircraft with golden parachutes.  Rather than have it sung at those times and places, I'd have it sung by the hundred thousand Penn State fans in Happy Valley.  They'd sing it in place of "Fight On, State!"

On the Home Page of the investment brokerages, I'd have a singable audio clip of Paul Simon's "Slip Sliding Away."  Doesn't that make sense?  "You know the nearer your destination, the more you're slip sliding away."  These are songs everyone should know.  Besides, the Paul Simon "investment anthem" is less troubling than the Beatles' "HELP!!"

Another really good one for those who are embattled and resisting impeachment is also a Tom Petty tune.  "I won't back down" is the name of it. Tom sings, "you can stand me up at the gates of Hell and I won't back down."  Then comes the big refrain that 40,000 fans should chime in with..."HEY, BABY!  THERE AIN'T NO EASY WAY OUT.  HEY, YEA!  And I'll  And I won't...back...down."  

These songs should be required learning by one and all because they represent the vanishing legacy of My Generation.  My 15-year-old granddaughter, who wants to play electric guitar, does not recognize the name "Tom Petty" and can't sing or play any riff or phrase from "Free Falling."  You can say all you want about a generation that doesn't realize that Muhammad Ali was an American boxer, doesn't recognize the phrase, "it depends on what "is" is," thinks the American Revolution was a rock band, and is bewildered by telephones with dialing mechanisms.  All these things can be remedied or punished.  But you can't replace a timeless cultural legacy that is embedded in these singable evocations of History.  

Ah, Paul Simon, how you grind up syllables!  My personal theme song is one of his.  I'll sing the refrain in Paul's pronunciation: "But I would not be cawn-vic-ted by a jury of my peers; still crazy after all these years."

No comments: