Sunday, July 1, 2012

Patriotic sounds and rhythms, Long Island poem for the 4th of July Sunday

Wood carving
by Mike Denaro
We have been on a lookout for Long Island-penned verses appropriate for the patriotic nature of the 4th of July. In turn, we considered a speech either written or given on the Island. We imagined a portly speeker delivering an address on a village green, a modest crowd in their Sunday best waving red white and blue flags, lemonade sold on stands, field games getting under way, and a marching band of mustachioed firemen. And then John Philip Sousa came to mind. The famous composer, band leader, and musician to presidents lived on Long Island between 1915 and 1932. His house in Sands Point, now in private hands, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. The sound and rhythm of his own Sousa Band playing patriotic songs are going to be our collective poem for today, the 4th of July Sunday.

We are particularly fond of the first recording, The Star Spangled Banner, from 1898, the oldest we present here - a bit blurry, affected by time but no less touching.

John Philip Sousa Band - The Star Spangled Banner (1898)

John Philip Sousa Band - Stars and stripes forever 1913 (Edison Cylinder)

John Philip Sousa Band - Liberty Bell March (1904)

Ironically, Sousa himself was not enamored with the emerging recording industry: "These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a boy ... in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape." (Sousa's sumission to 1906 congressional hearings, quote published after Wikipedia article on John Philip Sousa).

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - Higher and higher, Long Island Poem for end of school Sunday

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