Praise The Lord & Pass The Ammunition
laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Dec 15 03:53:19 UTC 2005
> James A. Landau asks:
>A couple of ADS-L members have said they don't like "God Bless America"
>that much. I am curious whether they dislike the music, the words, the
>sentiments, or the contexts in which it is encountered.
>In my case, I find it hard to disentangle these elements, but I can
>remember when GBA was introduced by Kate Smith whose program we liked well
>enough to listen to pretty regularly. Even though, as a kid I was
>well-imbued with patriotic war fervor, I still felt there was something
>rather embarassing about the tripey verse. Like Larry, I preferred
>"America the Beautiful" to most of the other marches, songs & hymns of that
>ilk that we sang in school. GBA seemed a pale imitation of that. It left
>out the people & any sense of community. The punch line (?), " my home
>sweet home" rang about as falsely as, say, "thank you for shopping at
>Kmart." "This land is your land, this land is my land" strikes me as miles
>better and more stirring.
My favorite verse was the one that goes
As I went walking
I saw a sign there
And on the sign it
Said "No Trespassing"
But on the other side
It didn't say nothing
That side was made for you and me.
Not a bad sentiment for a proposed national anthem, even (or
especially) if this verse tends to be omitted.
>As for the tune, the bridge has a little pizzazz,
>but on the whole I find it boring & obvious.
I should add for full disclosure that I always had a soft spot for
"My country 'tis of thee", which we sang every morning in grade
school (or maybe just in assembly, I can't rightly remember), and of
course by the time I heard the "God save the queen/king" words, I
thought the Brits stole their version from ours. But while I never
minded MCToT, I did prefer AtB. And eventually I discovered that the
words of my college alma mater exactly fit the melody of AtB, which
made an impression on me--sort of like the observation that all of
Emily Dickinson's poems can be sung to the tune of The Yellow Rose of
Texas. Deep patterns in the universe...
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