18 January 2009

Gettin' that feeling good feeling again.

I'm thinkin' I could get used to all this hope and optimism. Feels good after the last eight years, doesn't it? I couldn't help singin' along with Pete Seeger on this one....



Monday morning postscript: Do kids learn these American standards in school anymore? A while back, When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again (Hurrah! Hurrah!) came up on my Ipod. (Thank you Ken Burns.) My kids, 10 & 15, hadn't ever heard the song before and frantically rolled up the windows while I marched out the tune as we drove past the Arcata Plaza.

Do the public schools still teach the music of our collective heritage? Do kids today open dog-eared music textbooks after morning recess to learn America the Beautiful, God Bless America (favoring Kate Smith's Broad Street Bullies rendition over the Bronx Bomber's 9/11 Irish cop tenor), This Land is Your Land, The Star Spangled Banner, America America ("Oh beautiful for spacious skies"), and We Shall Overcome? Have these standards fallen victim to music program budget cuts and political correctness? Did I just answer my own question?

Sure, some of these songs glorify war, or a particular god, or contain subtle racism in the second or third verses, yet they are essential elements of the American soundtrack, no? And, I believe, there is tremendous value in learning our collective history behind the music, including its sordid or shameful elements.

It's lonely (not to mention hard on the ears) being the only one singing along with our national heritage as we drive along those ribbons of highways. Lord knows I need the accompaniment. Do I sound curmudgeonly enough yet?

2 comments:

Melanie said...

Both my kids (8 & 12) were singing along w/ Pete Seeger on that one. They've had a few of the "standards" taught at school, but not nearly as many as when I was a kid (of course :-).

Kato said...

I taught many of those at the community school where I worked; you just include the lesson about putting the song in its context. It's cultural history!

As to whether or not you sound "curmudgeonly enough", well, I've never heard you sing...