Monday, January 19, 2009

Pomp

I've been trying to write a post about music and the US presidential inauguration, but it's kept turning into snark.   I wanted to write about the John Williams commission, but it should speak for itself, another part of the deep embrace between official State pomp and the Hollywood representation of the auspicious in American today.  The society of the spectacle is your government at work.  I also wanted to write about the interesting institution of the "President's Own" Marine Band,  in practice the staff musicians of the White House, but — anachronistically, to my mind — organized as a military unit, but I have a weakness for Sousa marches and the Band does have a serious commissioning program (well, within the limits of a musical school of quietude, i.e. not yet ready to commission Anthony Braxton or Alvin Lucier).   But then, this evening, I happened upon a broadcast excerpt of the concert on the mall today, with Pete Seeger leading Woody Guthry's This Land is Your Land.  Seeger, accompanied by Bruce Springsteen, chose the verses which were ommitted from our grade school textbooks, warming this old leftist's heart and taking, if only for a moment, all my snark away:

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn't say nothing;
That side was made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.
 

 

1 comment:

Paul A. Epstein said...

Joe McCarthy must be rolling over in his grave, that is if he hasn't already rotted in hell.