You can keep the change

A Little Perspective column by Pat Kelly.

Thanks to the Internet I still tune in to CBC radio while I am living down here in Oregon. You can get an entirely different slant on things from the stuff they feed the masses down here.

It was on CBC that I heard a discussion about whether or not it is really necessary to play the national anthem before every single sporting event. I am pretty sure the topic came up as a result of the Three Tenors putting a few extra words into Oh Canada when they were singing at the MLB all star game earlier this month.

Now there have been cases in the past where someone has forgotten the words; and I have seen a video posted online of a microphone malfunction in the middle of an eight-year-old girl singing the anthem at a hockey game. In that case, the crowd came to her rescue and belted out the rest of the tune at the top of their lungs while she lip-synced.

But to actually change the words caused quite an uproar. There were reports of a loud argument in the Tenors’ dressing room right after their performance—it seemed that the fella who added the words “All Lives Matter” to the anthem hadn’t actually discussed this with his partners beforehand.

Apologies were not enough and the Three Tenors were downsized to The Two Tenors for a bit until they found a replacement for the errant vocalist.

There are a few lessons here. One is that if you are in a group and you are going to cover a song then it would be best to give the fans what they want and stick to the original lyrics. Another lesson shows the importance of picking the right name for your group at the outset. None of the Tenors gained in either fan-base or job security when they agreed to call themselves The Three Tenors. After all, when it came time to fire one of them all they had to do was find another tenor with a tux and they could keep on singing.

This is a common problem, and drummer Pete Best can relate. He was the original bucket banger for the Beatles who was replaced by Ringo Starr. On the other hand, the group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young had a name for their group that offered a bit more job security.

While changing the words to the Canadian national anthem for a major national performance was certainly a bold move, The Three Tenors were very lucky indeed it was the Canadian anthem that they were singing. They wouldn’t have made it out of the stadium alive if they had done that to the Star Spangled Banner. Folks down here are on high-alert against anyone mucking about with their national identity.

While Canadians are often depicted as being uncertain of their identity, Americans are more apt to be over the top with their patriotism. But there is no substance under their flag-waving and jingoism.

For all the talk about their founding fathers their brand of nationalism lacks believability. They have been told for so long how great they are they that they dare not question it. And now they must reconcile that “truth” with the conflicting call to “Make America Great Again.”  Is it any wonder they as so confused?

A bumper sticker I recently saw pretty much sums it up: “I’ll keep my guns, freedom and money. You can keep the change.” Pray for us all; and take care of someone who loves you….


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