Sunday, June 5, 2011

National anthems and goose bumps

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but sometimes songs can give me goose bumps. Jim Nabors singing "Back Home In Indiana" just before the Indy 500 always gets me there. American gold medal winners standing on the podium at the Olympics and singing along to the Star Spangled Banner sometimes does it. And then there's Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes, of course.

Watching the first 2 games of the Stanley Cup Finals in Vancouver did it too. While the players probably hail from several different countries, it's an American town, Boston, vs a Canadian town, Vancouver. In such cases, both countries have their national anthems sung before the game. Visitors first -- home team/country last.

Granted, it's a mighty long ways from Boston to Vancouver, and even considering cross-continental flights and/or scalpers, I don't think there were too many "beaners" in that building. Translation? Probably 99% "canucks", which is the way it should be. No doubt the reverse will be true when the series goes back to Boston. I'd refer to that crowd as "yanks" but it seems the Bostonians are a little testy about that word for some reason. Go figure.

But they did it up right in Vancouver with the national anthems. One guy for the Star Spangled Banner followed by another for O Canada. Both these men sang like operatic tenors, ala Pavarotti. Though I didn't catch their names, they were good -- REALLY good. Outstanding. Bravo stuff.

What really got my attention, though, was the second guy's rendition of O Canada. Half way through the song he stopped singing and held the microphone out for the crowd to carry the song. As the cameras panned the building, it seemed like just about everybody was joining in. They knew all the words and were belting them out. Towards the end of the anthem, the singer jumped back in, the crowd sang even louder, and it ended in a deafening crescendo of nationalistic pride.

I got goose bumps.

Whos' going to sing the anthems in Boston is anybody's guess, but what happened in Vancouver is a tough act to follow. I just hope they get it semi-right. When it comes to their own national anthem, my guess is about a quarter of the people in that arena will sing, and about half of those will actually know all the lyrics.

In other words, if whoever's singing the Star Spangled Banner stops midway through the song and expects the crowd in attendance to carry it -- well -- I don't think that will work out so hot. And would it be asking too much to have a singer that actually knows the words and will sing it like it was originally written? I don't care about jazz, soul, rap, country, rock, blues, reggae, or any other genre the singer has a background in. Just do it right -- one time. Make Francis Scott Key smile rather than roll over again.

But I don't think that will happen. It will probably be the celebrity flavor of the month that will butcher it yet again, thinking they're somehow cool. No matter what, when it comes to singing at sporting events, I hope they don't even allow Roseanne in the building. Remember her with a microphone at a ball game? I don't know what comes after ugly, but whatever it is, she nailed it.

As I said a while back, I've always liked Canadians because they're so down-to-earth and friendly. Salts of the earth. Do anything for you.
I wonder if they'd consider loaning out those 2 tenors to Boston for a few days. If anybody can get the crowd singing -- it's them.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll get goose bumps again.

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