Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy Constitution Day!

Yes, yes, I know the actual holiday was on Friday, but this evening will be the annual celebration at the University of Dallas. The evening features barbecue, Shiner, a patriotic address and then singing. Lots of singing. The measure of a good Constitution Day is if you leave hoarse. In honor of this fine festival, I share a few of my favorites.

The evening begins with songs of the Revolution and the early Republic, then moves to Confederate songs and finally to those of the Civil War's victors.

(For those of you reading this on Facebook, click here for the YouTube video of "The Bonnie Blue Flag".)

One of the great things about the lyrics to this song are the strange rhymes in later verses. Words like "mar" rhyme with the recurring "star", but "rare" or "prefer"? I'm afraid not. At one point "Florida" is stuck in there, making no attempt at all to continue the rhyme. There are other fun ones: I guess "given" rhymes with "eleven", but it still sounds funny when you sing it.

(Click here for the YouTube, if you can't see the video.)

This songs works best with periodic shouting. The most popular lines for this practice are not the obvious "shouting the battle cry of freedom", since it occurs far too often, twice in every verse. Instead, the best words to shout are usually the last words of the third line of every verse. This works particularly well with "[singing] And although he may be poor, he will [shouting] never be a slave!" The song is made even more boisterous by a great sweeping of fists into the air every time the line "up with the star" occurs. I highly recommend it.

(Click here for video.)

This is a slightly odd video of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," containing rare color footage of World War II. Also, strangely enough, the song is performed by Russia's Red Army Choir. But I found that this rendition had adequate "We're going to whip the bad guys!" gusto, which other versions (such as that by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) lacked.

Happy Constitution Day!
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