No fireworks, but Sousa, Copeland, and maybe a little Ray Charles. What stirs you?

It should be very quiet in San Gabriel. Our little city placed a ban on 4th of July fireworks many years ago. Sounds almost un-American doesn’t it? I no longer recall the precise reason they were officially prohibited, but it takes the pressure off–I don’t even think about pulling the group together for a big event.

But I’ll make my own appropriate and patriotic noise.

My musical buttons were enthusiastically pushed earlier this week with a visit to the Hollywood Bowl. One of my good friends invited me to accompany her to Tuesday’s Josh Groban concert–with the Los Angeles Phil.

Bowl Opening

It couldn’t be a more perfect concert for me. My musical tastes are very eclectic–as you’ll learn when I share the other three performing artists and groups we’re set to see later this summer–but the beautifully controlled power of Groban’s voice, the complex and creative instrumentation supervised by musical director and incredibly gifted guitarist, Tariqh Akoni, blends popular and classical into the most exuberant musical color.

The perfect concert for trying out the Bowl’s new speaker system–if my bones rattle, I’m at my happiest.

Of course the concert was primarily about the headliner, but being the week of the 4th, it opened with the Philharmonic setting a patriotic tone, stirring the audience with musical compositions easily identified by an American audience.

I might not immediately identify the piece Buckaroo Holiday, but within the first measure I sure know it’s Copeland. I couldn’t have stated the title, Colonel Bogey March, but everyone in the audience could whistle the melody made famous in the film, The Bridge Over the River Kwai, and John Williams’ Summon the Heroes is pure John Williams.

An Armed Forces Salute, an arrangement of music of the Armed Forces, energized the audience as the evening’s conductor, Sarah Hicks, invited veterans in the audience to stand for recognition while “their song” played.

This was an American concert, but music transcends borders.

I’m stirred by musical nationalism–rhythms, harmonies and musical motifs inspired by a country or region, whether I’m listening to Chopin as the standard-bearer of Polish nationalism or American Gershwin.  Sometimes I just enjoy simple folk tunes with easily identified melodies–immediate recognition when you hear it.

I was quite young when I tuned into the strength and beauty of La Marseillaise–that stirring scene in Casablanca is a standout.

And Blake’s Jerusalem, transformed into one of England’s most beautiful patriotic songs, moves me every time I hear it. I think it’s thrilling.

I am a bit suspicious of any American who doesn’t tear-up at least a little with Ray Charles’ “America the Beautiful.We all have our patriotic musical touchstones.

So today is my turn up the volume music day–from Souza to Kate Smith. And now that I’m thinking about it,  a little Ray Charles.

Music will be my way to celebrate–and think. I’ll give more than a little consideration to why I’m grateful for my country–flawed more than a little bit, but my home.

I can vociferously complain about almost everything associated with American politics, but I feel protective when I hear complaints from outside the country. We’re funny that way!

Wherever you find yourself today, living in the land of your birth or a new home abroad, you have patriotic musical memory.

Would you share what songs or anthems stir your patriotism?

Fireworks at the Bowl

Fireworks at the Bowl

Happy Fourth of July to my fellow Americans, and to my many delightful international friends, it’s always a good day for a little Ray Charles.

54 thoughts on “No fireworks, but Sousa, Copeland, and maybe a little Ray Charles. What stirs you?

  1. I love it! Thanks for rubbing in the Bowl, LOL. I always think of and miss Grams on the 4th. She sure loved her patriotic music :)

    • It’s not too late for us to get tickets to the Sound of Music sing-a-long? LOL! And yes to Grams. I was thinking of her with her Battle Hymn of the Republic one woman parade. hahaha! Have fun today!

    • I hope you have a wonderful 4th, Colleen. It’s an opportunity to think about a great many things, or choose to put it all aside for one day and don’t overdo the thinking. LOL! Just enjoy!

  2. I imagine for fire safety in dry parts is why the fireworks are banned, however, I know someone in Santa Ana where fireworks are fair game. Go figure isn’t that where the phrase Santa Ana winds come from, the dry and sometimes prone to high winds area? Enjoy the music! I can’t even think of a patriotic American song that moves me…how bizarre? I am a first generation American so i think that has a lot do with it. As much as my parents are grateful for this country they never blared any American songs just songs from their nostalgic homeland which have resonated more with me.

    • I think you’re on to something with the way patriotic music gets into our souls from an early age…we sang patriotic music with unabashed enthusiasm in school when I was a child. I think there was very early imprinting! :-) And yes, all the neighboring cities are firework-friendly. There isn’t much consistency, is there? Have a great day, however you spend it, and thank you so much for sharing with me today! ox

  3. Happy Fourth, Debra!!

    I would have loved this concert. Thank you for sharing it.

    We listened to the Men’s River Chorus sing a Capella this afternoon, right before we went through the food line. :)

    • Sounds delightful, Andra. I hope you continue to have a great day. It’s still quite early here and I’m not moving very quickly. That’s my way of celebrating today. LOL! I am listening I’m listening to Internet radio streaming through the house and Ray just started singing America the Beautiful. How’s that for timing? ox

  4. Hope you have a great 4th of July – I’m reaching for my Teapot right now ;-)

    What stirs my patriotism?… Jerusalem, The hymn version of Jupiter, Walton’s Spitfire & Fugue along with his music for the Film ‘Battle of Britain’. The RAF March (not to be confused with the Dambusters). Vaughan Williams’ London Symphony.

    What stirs my parochialism?… London Calling, Down in the Tube Station at Midnight, Streets of London, :-)

    Actually, I ditched the teapot and reached for the beer – London Pride :-)

    • I really enjoyed your list of very stirring musical pieces, Martin. I am not familiar with a one except for Jerusalem, but I am definitely going to search them out. I love adding to my repertoire, at least to where I can say I recognize a piece. Thank you for sharing. I’m looking forward to hearing what stirs your patriotism. I listened to a wonderful Internet station all day today, and definitely feel full of the spirit! :-)

  5. Hope you had a happy 4th with some more lovely music.
    We sang in high-school during the post WW II years with great enthusiasm a song about freedom. I loved it. I still do. :-)

    • I enjoyed a wonderfully patriotic music station I found on the Internet, Uta. I was reminded of so many songs I hadn’t heard in a very long time. Isn’t it lovely to think back to songs we enjoyed when young and realize they still bring us enjoyment and happy memories. :-) Thank you for sharing, Uta.

    • Kate, Thank you so much for the Holst link! Goodness! That is the epitome of stirring music. A very exciting composition. I will make a point of finding a recording to enjoy the entire suite! If nothing else, youtube! :-)

  6. Happy 4th of July! I agree, Ray Charles is good any time. And Jerusalem is definitely at the top of my list for patriotic sentiments… especially when played at the Albert Hall in London on the Last Night of the Proms! I get goosebumps! And any Beatles tune reminds me of my homeland too! ;-) Enjoy your musical holiday celebrations Debra!

    • I’m so glad to hear your choices for favorite emotionally stirring songs, Cathy. I have never heard Jerusalem performed by a live orchestra. I can only imagine how glorious it would be at the Albert Hall. Goosebumps! The Beatles are certainly going to remain timeless, aren’t they? Good choice! I did enjoy some wonderful music today. Thank you!

  7. That sounds like a terrific start to the week’s festivities. When I’m in the right frame of mind (i.e., not in the middle of a TSA pat-down or having to dump my undrunk coffee to enter the courthouse for jury duty), most patriotic songs make me tap my toes and nod my head ~ America the Beautiful, the Star Spangled Banner, God Bless the USA, the military anthems, Sousa marches, etc.

  8. I’d love to go to a Josh Groban concert. And sitting on the grass on a perfect summer’s night would be wonderful. I hope you had a lovely 4th of July. America certainly does have some great patriotic songs. xx

    • I’m going to have to look up Nimrod, JIm. I don’t know it by name anyway. You might have enjoyed the orchestral version of Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” It was rather gorgeous, actually! Music is a wonderful gift, isn’t it? Thank you for weighing in, Jim. :-)

    • Summon the Heroes is a beautiful piece, Frank. I am sure I had heard it, but it wasn’t one of Wiliams’ pieces that readily came to my memory. And I know you’d have enjoyed Groban. The orchestra accompanying him was simply breathtaking. There’s a lot of talent in that young man!

  9. When I was a kid we watched Yankee Doodle Dandy with James Cagney every year. Last night I found it on an old movie channel, and watched it again. It reminds me of my parents who both loved the song It’s a Grand Old Flag. But I agree with you, songs like Ray Charles’ America the Beautiful move me too. Sounds like you went to a wonderful concert too. Hope you enjoyed your 4th!

    • You made me smile with your memory of Yankee Doodle Dandy! I did the same thing! In the Los Angeles market the “Million Dollar Movie” would repeat a movie over and over for at least a week, and then it would come back and repeat again. At one time I think I had that movie memorized. LOL! I loved the music of George M. Cohan! You brought that back to me, and I’d not thought of that in years–thank you. :-) I did enjoy the 4th, and hope you did, too, Karen.

  10. Sounds like a fabulous concert, Debra, and one I would have enjoyed. What an exciting list of songs all your commenters shared, love the ones mentioned, with a few I want to discover now. This afternoon, when I run some errands, I plan to crank up Bruce Springsteen and Born in the USA!

    • Bruce Springsteen! Of course, Penny. I didn’t think of him in the line up of patriotic composers and songs, but I think he will definitely be remembered for a great many of his songs that address American themes, life and towns. Thank you for mentioning him!

    • I don’t think your National Anthem is dull at all, Perpetua. It probably sounds so funny, and I know some of my American friends and family would laugh at me, but I tear up at God Save the Queen! LOL! I really do. I suppose I’m just appreciative of what the words represent, and somehow I feel an affinity for what National Anthem’s mean in the lives of all of us. The Welsh National Anthem is very beautiful. Music really does stir our emotions, doesn’t it? ox

  11. I’m a Kate Smith fan and remember watching her sing God Bless America before hockey games when the Red Wings played the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Now, every July 4th, I send a file of her singing her signature song to a bunch of friends. It wouldn’t be the 4th of July around here without her. :)

    • I also love Kate Smith, John. I was actually thinking of her wonderful rendition of God Bless America this past week or so and wondering at what age do younger people perhaps hit the cutoff mark for knowing who she is? I also love the song itself, but don’t hear it very often anymore. At the Bowl they did an orchestral arrangement, and I supplied Kate’s voice in my imagination. :-) I do hope you had a lovely, 4th, John.

  12. Loved this post, Debra, and thinking about all the patriotic music which causes my heart to swell and, usually, a few of my tears to spill: our national anthem, Kate Smith’s God Bless America, a Sousa march or two. Another, of more recent vintage, is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRTHdC7k4uY Glad you’re able to access those wonderful live performances.

    PS: I don’t comment here much, but I read quite often – love your photos and your tortoise. :)

    • Fantastic! Neil Diamond’s Coming to America is a real toe-tapper–how do you not respond to that wonderful song? :-) We do have a wonderful patriotic musical heritage, don’t we? Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Karen. It’s nice to hear from you when you can! :-)

  13. My daughter plays French horn in a large community band, and they always play some very stirring patriotic pieces. The audience can’t help but tap their toes and many even sing, so I know what you’re talking about!

    • I play piano and have had a great many wonderful musical experiences! But I have always wished I’d taken another instrument so that I could be a part of an orchestra or band. my dad played the French horn, and it’s a favorite instrument. I’m sure your daughter must really enjoy her community experiences, too. There is something wonderful about sharing music with others!

  14. I have to admit that the older I get the less patriotic I have become. Maybe it’s because I have lived in too many countries and seen flaws and positive elements in all countries – and maybe because I have seen the negative impact patriotism sometimes have. It’s maybe also because I don’t have much attachment to the country I was once born in. Your post is nevertheless wonderful. On 4th of July I was out canoeing on a lake in Seattle watching the fireworks.

    • I think I know what you mean, Otto. There is something quite wonderful about the way the world is getting smaller. I have gained so much appreciation for how people live their lives all over the world which gives me the opportunity to reflect upon my sometimes very “American perspective” and realize there are other ways to look at issues and I enjoy that challenge! I am not someone who waves a flag and thinks “my country, right or wrong.” But I do have to admit that patriotic music gets to me! I indulge in more overt patriotism one time a year…the 4th of July does do it for me! :-) Seattle must have been beautiful. I do admire the traveling you do. I always enjoy your perspectives because they are informed by real experience. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Dear Debra, I, too, am filled with such emotion when I hear “Jerusalem.” I first heard it in the movie “The Chariots of Fire,” and I so like the soundtrack for that movie. I am also greatly moved by Copeland’s Appalachian Spring and the song from the Civil War “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again.” And finally, the song “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables brings me to tears when I think of all the men and women who have given their lives in their belief that to do so would keep our country free and strong. Finally, your choice of Ray Charles’ “American the Beautiful” is mine also. His voice caresses each word and gives it new meaning. Peace.

    • Ah, thank you for reminding me where I first heard “Jerusalem.” I was trying to remember, and I’m almost certain it was Chariots of Fire! Now you have me thinking I need to access that soundtrack again! I had it once–on a cassette tape. LOL! And I’m with you on “Bring Him Home.” That is an incredibly moving piece, isn’t it? There is so much wonderful music to inspire and move us! I did find an on-line music station playing patriotic music all day long on the 4th and I felt like I had a musical feast. Thank you for sharing your favorites, too, Dee! I hope you enjoyed the 4th.

  16. Out of town, Rancho Mirage, for three weeks, so I missed all of the sparkles of the Fourth as well. Hope you had a good one! I still like the old country stuff from Woody Guthrie when I think of patriotic songs.

    • I listened to a lot of Woody Guthrie on the 4th, and couldn’t help but smile. I get caught short when I’m humming along and tapping my toes and then key in to the words and realize that what he’s talking about isn’t exactly “happy days.” I did that more than once, reminding me that also that I could use a little brush up on his tunes! How nice to have had three weeks in Rancho Mirage! Fantastic!

  17. Debra, it is high time I paid you a visit after your kindness in visiting me sometimes. I love Copland’s music. I think Buckaroo Holiday is from Rodeo. My real passion, lifelong, has been for JS Bach. Brandenburg concertos, suites, solo violin, cello,
    But at my age when I hear a piece of music, I can remember it note by note, but I can not often remember the title and composer!
    John

    • Thank you for sharing your musical favorites, also, John. I enjoyed asking others to contribute to the list, and intend to add some of the suggestions to my playlist. I am passionate about music, but I have very eclectic tastes. And I also have a very keen memory for music, as you seem to have from your comment. I wish I could transfer that same ability to remember other things. :-) I do appreciate the visit, John.

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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