At my children’s swim meets this summer, the whole event is kicked off with the national anthem. Usually a cute young voice will fill the speakers and broadcast around the pool, sending us all to our feet. Early last week at the opponents’ pool a brief announcement mentioned that an Oscar nominated actress would be singing…apparently I was the only one in the crowd who heard that part, no fuss was made, no one knew who she was. She was good, that’s for sure. Really good.
Quality, experienced voice or young, cute off-key voice, hearing the national anthem makes you stop and put down your iced coffee and rise out of your folding chair.
In the kitchen yesterday listening to Stuart McLean on NPR’s The Vinyl Café stopped me in my tracks and moved me to dry off the dishwater and turn up the radio.
His topic…Anthems, had me from the start. He had me at music.
Stuart went on to get to the heart of the matter about why anthems and he wasn’t talking national anthems, move us. He spoke of songs that unite us in the sports arena and in the political arena. When you take the individual and merge with something bigger…music gets you there. You aren’t just singing words, you are dancing, He told his listening audience.
Who would ever have thought of Queen and Neil Young as singers of anthems? We Will Rock You and Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World are songs that send us to our feet, inspire us to rise up. Anthems, Stuart explained are a call to action. One of the handfuls of songs he played was We Shall Overcome, the civil rights gospel song that brought a nation together. The radio program closed with the national anthem of them all that was written for a 1967 television show…the Beatle’s All You Need is Love.
And that’s what music does for me, sends me to my feet…yes. Inspires, indeed. But ultimately, it joins me with my deep desires of my heart, unites me with those I love and the love I have for this life, and moves me to not just singing the words but gets me up on my feet, dancing with my body, but most importantly with my heart.
Thank you Stuart McLean for that reminder.
by J.G. McGlothern