Name That Tune!
While writing about Johannes Brahms' "Academic Festival Overture" in a brief guide to academic graduations and costumes the other day, it occurred to me that several songs familiar to many Americans have origins that range from quite humorous to downright bizarre*. As an example, can you name an English drinking song that is familiar to virtually all Americans? Answer: "To Anacreon [an-NAK-ree-ahn] in Heaven." Never heard of that one, you say? Perhaps the author of the lyrics, Francis Scott Key, and his poem set to this tune are more familiar. It's called "The Star Spangled Banner." (!) There seems to be a tendency among Americans to adopt as their own everything from songs mocking their habits and customs to the enemy's own national anthem. These are often made into solemn hymns and even patriotic icons.
Doubtless those of
you who have attended the annual O.U. – U. Texas football game in
Not a few
residents of the Texas Panhandle, many of whom I suspect are originally from
Those of you who
The American favorite "Yankee Doodle" was a derisive ditty created by British soldiers during the American Revolution, depicting the rebellious colonists as inept dandies absolutely incapable of winning a war against the most powerful nation on earth (Britain), much less of governing themselves. (I suppose the capability to govern ourselves is still in question, particularly in light of the behavior of our last two Presidents, not to mention the lack of three-digit IQ scores in the current U.S. House of Representatives. With copious aid from the French, however, we surely did win the American Revolution.) The song "Yankee Doodle" survives as a patriotic song played by every fife and drum corps that assembles for a Fourth of July independence celebration.
There are surely more of these than I have mentioned here. If you have other examples, pass them along, and I'll add them to the list with appropriate credit. Speaking of appropriate credit, the idea for this article came from a September 2006 conversation with Dr. Tamara Carter at OCCC who is, like the author, a former member of Rice's (in-)famous Marching Owl Band (Da MOB!).
described his "Academic Festival Overture" as "a very boisterous potpourri of student drinking
songs." This may not strike many
Americans as odd, since we seldom hear this beautiful Brahms work other than at
graduations of elite American universities, if at all. The work and the tune "Gaudeamus
Igitur" prominently quoted therein are much more commonly heard at
graduations at universities in
History of Brahms' "Academic Overture"
"The Eyes of
Star Spangled Banner History (click the Anacreon in Heaven link)
Rice's Marching Owl Band