Category Archives: Independence Day

QUESTION: The National Anthem

Isaac Asimov, the great science fiction writer loved the ‘Star=Spangeled Banner.’. All four stanzas. I must admit that I only know the first, second and fourth verse by heart.

Initially, though, one needs to deal with the tune. Not only is it an old English drinking song, but it generates countless complaints from anyone trying to do the difficult melody differently, such as in Spanish.

Back to the lyrics. I know the first one, the second verse confused me, the third verse I hadn’t seen since grade school, and the fourth verse made me a more than a little uneasy. That it came out of the little-understood War of 1812 is an issue. But you tell me:
1. Which verses, other than the first, were you familiar with before?
2. What you think of the poetry of the anthem?
3. What is your favorite version of the song? I’ve always had a bizarre affection for Marvin Gaye’s, which I heard in real time. Rhythmically, it is SO strange.
4. Should the anthem be replaced by something more “singable”, such as “America the Beautiful”? Not calling for it; wouldn’t bother me.

Meanwhile, read the Declaration of Independence today. Preferably aloud.
Answer to the question you didn’t ask: 26. That’s the number of times Bill Withers says “I know” in a row in Ain’t No Sunshine. Bill Withers turns 70 today.

MOVIE REVIEWS: Defending Your Life, ID4, Andromeda Strain

Movies I’ve seen recently, two on DVD, one recorded on the DVR.

Defending Your Life (1991), lent to me by a co-worker, is an Albert Brooks movie, by which I mean he directs, writes, and stars in a film that’s about what happens after one dies, a vaguely familiar version of one’s earthly existence. But everyone gets to see the highlights and lowlights of their past and have to explain their actions. Brooks’ character meets and falls for another of the recently deceased, played by Meryl Streep. It’s a comedy, but it did not have many big laughs for me. Still, I liked it, as I found it quite thought-provoking.
There is a movie trailer included but DON’T watch it until after you see the film, as it essentially REVEALS THE ENDING.
Independence Day: One of my co-workers lent this to me on VHS. Another co-worker, seeing that I had the tape, brought me the DVD of the film. Apparently lots of people really liked this film, as it was a big hit in the summer of 1996.
I will say that in the July 2 segment, things got blowed up real good. But I never got all that invested in the characters – well, maybe Randy Quaid’s drunken alleged former alien captive. I was watching the movie for a number of minutes when I had to look at the package; Will Smith IS in this, isn’t he? Yup, billed first, no less.
All the electronic alien encounters was done better in Contact, the meeting of the First Lady with another character stretch credulity, and the President would have been tackled by the Secret Service before getting into the plane. I didn’t hate it. More like indifference.

Whereas I hated, hated the A&E remake of The Andromeda Strain. I never saw the 1971 theatrical release. It featured Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order), Christa Miller (Drew Carey, Scrubs), Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), Ricky Schroeder (NYPD Blue, 24 – yes, he’s back to his Silver Spoons name) and Viola Davis (L&O: SVU) as scientists that are trying to find the reason a town all but died, making all who initially didn’t die suicidal or homicidal. TV Guide gave a “jeer” to Eric McCormack’s (Will & Grace) wooden performance as a drug-adled reporter, and rightly so. The mutation of the strain seemed almost random. Still,, I watched the second half of this four-hour mess, hoping for the payoff. Instead, it just went stoopid, especially in the last hour. I’m loath to provide spoilers, but suffice to say that: the family drama involving one of the scientists went nowhere; one romantic liaison had no chemistry, while another was highly implausible; the fate of one scientist went totally unexplained, a rescue mission contradicted the movie’s own internal logic; another rescue was utterly laughable; the death of one character was unexplained; and worse, the big reveal left me saying, WTF?! Awful, just awful. It’s available on DVD, but I implore you: DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS. DO NOT WATCH THIS.

Tunes in 7-4

I’ve been in a groove (or rut, depending on your perspective) of listing song titles this week, so I thought I would do it again today. I haven’t actually made this disc, and the songs wouldn’t necessarily be in this order, nor do I make any claim that this list is all inclusive:

Almost Independence Day-Van Morrison
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)-Bruce Springsteen
4th of July-Pete Droge
4th of July-U2
Independence Day-Bruce Springsteen
Independence Day-David Byrne
Lake of Fire-Nirvana
On the 4th of July-James Taylor
Saturday in the Park-Chicago
Tears of Rage-The Band

4th of July-Dave Alvin
4th of July-X
Yankee Doodle Dandy-James Cagney

4th of July-Sweet
4th of July-Keel
4th of July-Soundgarden
4th of July-Mariah Carey
4th of July-Robert Earl Keen
4th of July-Aimee Mann
Independence Day-Martina McBride
Independence Day-Ani DiFranco
Independence Day-Eliot Smith
Independence Day-Imani Coppola
Independence Day-Too $hort w/ Keith Murray

The first batch I actually have on CD, the second on vinyl, and the third not at all. So, if I WERE making a mixed CD, I’d have to throw on America the Beautiful by Ray Charles, and the Star Spangled Banner by Marvin Gaye or Whitney Houston, probably both.

Incidentally, many of those same-named songs are totally different songs, not covers of each other.

So, as you celebrate America’s 229th birthday today, remember that is music that’s as much a part of our national heritage as musket.

Oh, and a piece from the Independence Day sermon I heard yesterday led me here.