It is thought by many, and said by some, that this republic has already seen its best days; that the historian may now write the story of its decline and fall. Two classes of men are just now especially afflicted with such forebodings. The first are those who are croakers by nature. The men who have a taste for funerals, and especially national funerals. They never see the bright side of anything, and probably never will. Like the raven in the lines of Edgar A. Poe, they have learned two words, and those are, ‘never more’. They usually begin by telling us what we never shall see.
Frederick Douglass, December 7, 1869
Something for the weekend. This rendition of Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA seems very appropriate as a new administration begins. We Americans are a tough and resilient people, something our adversaries frequently forget and something we too also fail to sometimes remember.
Something for the weekend. Hail to the Chief. The Presidential anthem, it was written by James Sanderson in 1812 and became associated with the Presidency in 1815 to honor George Washington and the ending of the War of 1812. Andrew Jackson was the first living president for which the song was played. During the Civil War it was played for both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. Chester A. Arthur did not like the song and had John Philip Sousa write a replacement, the Presidential Polonaise. After Arthur’s term of office the Marine Corps Band went right back to playing Hail to the Chief to announce the President. Here are the almost never sung, thank goodness, lyrics:
Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation,
Hail to the Chief! We salute him, one and all.
Hail to the Chief, as we pledge cooperation
In proud fulfillment of a great, noble call.
Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander,
This you will do, that’s our strong, firm belief.
Hail to the one we selected as commander,
Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief! Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Less of Me sung by the Statler Brothers. I heard this song sung by the Statler Brothers endlessly back in the early seventies as my parents had the radio on in the kitchen tuned, as always, to country western station WPRS in Paris, Illinois, as they prepared for work and my brother and I were still in our room before we got up to prepare for school. Originally recorded by Glen Campbell in 1965, the song is a rendition in music of the poem A Creed by English-American poet Edgar Albert Guest which he wrote in 1909: Continue reading
Something for the weekend: Heart of Courage.
We have made men proud of most vices, but not of cowardice. Whenever we have almost succeeded in doing so, the Enemy permits a war or an earthquake or some other calamity, and at once courage becomes so obviously lovely and important even in human eyes that all our work is undone, and there is still at least one vice of which they feel genuine shame.
CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters
Something for the weekend. Appropriate both for Halloween and the political season: Werewolves in Congress. A political parody song by Paul Shanklin in the nineties.
Something for the weekend. Sogno di Volare, The Dream of Flight, the theme song of the game Civilization VI that was released yesterday. (Be still my geek heart!) I know what will be occupying my weekend! Continue reading
Something for the weekend. A nice mild October Saturday after a not uneventful week in the law mines Time to celebrate with Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Perhaps the greatest of the middle Baroque composers, Johann Pachelbel enjoyed enormous popularity in his lifetime. After his death in 1706, with changing fashions in music, he was largely forgotten. This changed dramatically in 1968 with a recording of Canon D by Jean-Francois Paillard. Great Art never really ceases to be great Art, it merely slumbers until new audiences appear to appreciate it.
Something for the weekend. Missouri Waltz. Published in 1914, the melody was by John Valentine Eppel, arrangement by Frederic Knight Logan, with James Royce Shannon supplying the lyrics. Initially the song sold poorly, but its popularity increased over the years. After Harry Truman became President it became associated with him, and was played constantly when he appeared during his long uphill campaign throughout the nation in 1948. In 1949 Missouri adopted it as its state song. Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Tippecanoe and Tyler Too! The 1840 campaign for President was considered to be an insult to intelligence by more than a few observers. The Whigs put up a military hero of the War of 1812 William Henry Harrison. Prior to the War of 1812 in 1811 he had gained the victory against massed Indian tribes under Tenskawtawa (the Prophet) the brother of Tecumseh. The two Shawnee brothers had been meeting with some success in setting up a nascent Indian confederation to resist American expansion. The battle was fought at Prophetstown, modern day Lafayette, Indiana, near to the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers, hence the name of the battle was Tippecanoe and became a nickname for Harrison. Harrison went on after the War to be a Senator from Ohio and an ambassador to Colombia, but had met with little political success in the 1830s. At the time he received the Whig nomination he was Clerk of Courts for Hamilton Country Ohio. His running mate was John Tyler, a Virginia aristocrat and former Democrat, who had turned against Jackson. Tyler had served in the state legislature in Virginia, in Congress both in the House and in the Senate, and as Governor of Virginia. He was put on the ticket to ensure Southern votes.
The incumbent Martin Van Buren had reaped the whirlwind sown by Jackson’s economic policies and the country was ready for change. However, serious discussion of the issues of the day was largely absent from the campaign. The Democrats then, as now, posed as the champion of the common man.. Van Buren came across as something of a stuffed shirt. When a Democrat paper made the mistake of sneering, completely inaccurately, as a backwoodsman, who would be content to live in his log cabin if awarded a pension of 2000 a year and a barrel of hard cider, the Whigs seized upon it gleefully. Usually accused as being the party of the rich, the Whigs ran a “hard cider and log cabin” campaign decrying Martin Van Buren as a New York aristocrat who wore frilly shirts, used perfume and ate off of gold plate. The tenor of the campaign is illustrated by this little ditty that Whig partisans would chant:
Old Tip he wore a homespun coat, he had no ruffled shirt: wirt-wirt,
But Matt he has the golden plate, and he’s a little squirt: wirt-wirt! Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Entry of the Gladiators by Julius Fucik. Written in 1897, Czech composer Julius Fucik wanted the march to evoke Roman gladiators entering the arena. Ironically it has become the entrance song for clowns in circuses around the globe.
Something for the weekend. The Radetzky March. Written in 1848 by Johann Strauss Senior, the march celebrated Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz, the bright light of the Austrian Army in the first half of the nineteenth century. Radetzky served seventy years in the Austrian Army and was winning battles into his eighties. A perhaps apocryphal story tells that the Austrian Emperor would frequently settle Radetzky’s debts. When some courtiers asked the Emperor why he did this, the Emperor shrugged and said it was cheaper than losing a war! The sprightly march has been a favorite in America and around the globe since its debut.
Something for the weekend. Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse. The poem on which the march is based was written in the wake of the French devastating battlefield defeats in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 by Paul Cezano. Music for the poem was composed by Robert Planquette in 1871. In 1879 the familiar military march arrangement was written by Joseph François Rauski. The march proved very popular in the United States as any fans of Ohio State football can attest.
Something for the weekend. Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. Written in 1801 it has always been among the more popular of Beethoven’s works.
Squadron Leader Adams: Well, at least the rockets won’t happen.
Air Vice Marshal Davis: Of course they’ll happen. But they won’t start tomorrow, or this month or on D-Day, and that’s important.
Squadron Leader Adams: Then what’s it all add up to? All their sacrifice?
Air Vice Marshal Davis: A successful operation.
Squadron Leader Adams: But they’re probably all dead. All 633 Squadron.
Air Vice Marshal Davis: You can’t kill a squadron.
Ending, 633 Squadron (1964)
Something for the weekend. The theme song from 633 Squadron. In my misspent youth I spent endless hours watching old war movies on TV. One of my favorites was the British flick 633 Squadron (1964) which recounted the fictional tale of a British Mosquito bomber squadron and their self sacrificial attempt to take out a well-defended Nazi V2 rocket fuel plant in occupied Norway. The film won praise for its aerial sequences, cutting edge in 1964, and George Lucas has cited the squadron’s attack on the plant as influencing the trench run sequence attack on the Death Star in Star Wars. Continue reading
Something for the weekend. To Canaan. One of the more bloodthirsty songs of our Civil War, it is based on this poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes, published in 1862: Continue reading
Something for the weekend. The Gael (the theme from the movie Last of the Mohicans) performed by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Excellent music when traveling.
Something for the weekend. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong team up to give an unforgettable rendition of Summertime. Composed as an aria in 1934 by George Gershwin for the play Porgy and Bess, it always conveys to me memories of the various hot summers of my boyhood when home air conditioning was rare and a luxury.