A Little Touch of Woody in the Night
Am I the only one who really dislikes the modern trend of treating “God Bless America” as a quasi-national anthem? This phenomenon came about following 9/11. It should by all rights have been short-lived, but it turns out to have legs.
We still get the actual national anthem before games, but “God Bless America” has largely displaced “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in the seventh inning stretch at baseball games. This is not an improvement. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was fun. It gave us a change to stand up and move around a bit, and join in the singing. If you heard some joker belting out “One more time!” at the end, that was me.  Not so with “God Bless America.” We take off our hats and stand quietly wearing solemn expressions as someone else sings it. I draw the line at placing my hand over my heart, but lots of people do this.
Is it just me, or is “God Bless America” a crappy song? Trite and unchallenging, both musically and lyrically, with the banal sentiment of divine favor that gives American exceptionalism a bad name. Sure, “The Star Spangled Banner” has its issues, what with that high note and questionable grammar, but it is provocative in a good way. It asks questions. I like that in a national anthem. Are we still the land of the free? Key was asking if we had kept the Brits out, but the question can be taken other, and interesting, ways. “God Bless America” doesn’t ask any potentially awkward questions. It is straight Rah! Rah! boosterism. Seeing it raised to quasi-anthem status is not an improvement.
I bring this up because I was pleasantly surprised last Friday listening to the Orioles game. Not by the outcome. They had a dismal weekend, being swept at home by Minnesota. feh. But a minute or so into the seventh inning stretch, awareness gradually worked its way into my frontal lobe that I was hearing this:
The cockles of my heart (whatever they are) were warmed. Sure, he didn’t get to the real rabble-rousing verse about the “No Tresspassing” sign, but still…
This seems to have been a one-off. Over the weekend they reverted to the usual. But good for the Orioles for their willingness to push things a bit.
 Among my superpowers is the ability to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” with the words offset from the music by two notes. What can I say? It’s a gift.
 What we all know is just the chorus. Listen to the verses and it turns out that it is a girl telling a guy what it will take to get some action with her. God Bless America!