Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So I was watching hockey the other day

And it got me thinking about our national anthem. Not O Canada, exactly (which is truly awesome and stirring in both official languages) but the vocalising.

Traditionally anthems are hard to sing. They call for incredible vocal ability and a great set of pipes. You know what it doesn't call for? Creativity.

You rarely hear the anthem anymore. Once you're out of school, you'll only hear it as a sports fan. So when you do hear it at a game, you are already ebullient, full of good spirits (both kinds, hopefully) and high hopes for your team to completely eviscerate their opponents. When the first strains of the song start to play, there's nothing you want to do more than channel all your excitement, anticipation and joy onto that one unifying song. You try to sing from the bottom of your heart and you fall victim to the Big C. Creativity. By the end of the tune, you are grouchily mumbling along and willing for that puck to drop. Your song, the people's song, has become a Ke$hia Top 40 hit or Idol audition. It's like when Bleeding Gums Murphy sang that 26 minute Star Spangled Banner on The Simpsons. Painful.

Can we please come up with an injunction or something stating that anyone performing the national anthem has to sing it the way it was intentioned? No runs or vocal gymnastics, just the great old song the way it was written? As a audience we want to sing along. It may be the only patriotism we show. We want to love our song but sometimes it's impossible because of the selfish way the singer chooses to perform it, excluding the whole crowd.

Occasionally at a hockey game, the anthem singer sings part of it then lets the crowd take it. Holy mackerel, it's a beautiful thing. Is there anything more stirring than 20,000 people united in song? Makes you want to go out wrestle a polar bear with your bare hands or wear nothing but your Canada flag as a cape and jump off your backyard shed into a vat of maple syrup. Or is that just me?


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