Tuesday, May 16, 2006
New Lyrics for an Old and Honorable Song
I'm reminded of the following:
A few sons of harmony sent a petition
That he their inspirer and patron would be.
When this answer arrived from the jolly old Grecian.
"Voice fiddle and lute, no longer be mute!
I'll lend thee my name, and inspire thee to boot!
And what's more I will teach thee like me to entwine,
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus' vine!"
These are the original words (as best as I can recount them from memory) to the lovely drinking song "To Anacreon in Heaven." They recount a prayer to the Greek Gods, requesting guidance in better drinking, woman-chasing, and partying -- sentiments with which I can agree. Frances Scott Key dropped the lyrics and wrote his own to give us another magnificent song, the "Star Spangled Banner."
The real musical threat to America isn't from those who follow in the time-honored tradition of writing new lyrics to this magificent music, but from those traitors who advocate replacing "Star Spangled Banner" with the insipid "America the Beautiful" as our national anthem. The "Star Spangled Banner," in any of its versions, has life to it. It ranges up and down the scale, it is a workout to sing it, and it is bold and exciting. "American the Beautiful," on the other hand, is whiney and mewling and lends itself only to the wimpiest of words -- only the late great Ray Charles could breathe any life into it.
Anyway, adding new verses to "To Anacreon in Heaven" is an old and honorable tradition. Perhaps "we" here at UnforeseenContingencies will offer a new lyrics contest sometime in the future.