Patriotic Gore: Musical Bombast

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The aim of this issue was to be truly international while celebrating all that patriotic fireworks stuff and historical bric-a-brac. With some truly inspired help from h2g2 Researchers, this has been accomplished. Read on about. . .

Patriotic Gore: Musical Bombast

The Humboldt State University Marching Lumberjacks.

The title of this article owes itself to the Maryland, USA, state anthem. Yep, it's still on the books, to the tune of 'O Tannenbaum':

Avenge the patriotic gore

That flecked the streets of Baltimore. . .

A history teacher friend said her Maryland students were always a bit shocked by this song, which includes a rather nasty reference to 'Northern scum'. Marylanders usually think of themselves as Northerners, these days, although when the song was written in 1861, the state was under martial law. Abraham Lincoln, vampire- Secessionist-hunter, was making sure there wasn't a repeat of the Baltimore Riot.

Awful, cringe-making patriotic music: everybody's got it. We asked our crack team of musical experts to share their least favourite patriotic songs, and the tastiest lines from them. Here's what they came up with.

  • God Bless the USA, by Lee Greenwood. (Dmitri.) I particularly dislike this song because of the line 'I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free.' AT LEAST? As in, 'no matter how messed up it gets, we've still got democracy'? Sheesh.
  • The now-illegal verses of the Deutschlandlied. (Bel.) We've agreed that, as annoying as the territorial claims in Verse 1 are (from the Meuse to the Memel. . . ), the pièce de résistance is the second verse, which touts 'German women, German loyalty, German wine and German song'. It's sort of a combination of hubris and tourism, you see, that brings on the nausea. Tavaron points out that since the Germans stole that tune from the Austrians (it's by Papa Haydn), she always sings God Save Our Emperor in her head when she hears it. (Gheorghenis sing 'Alma mater, wise and glorious, child of light and bride of truth'. University of Pittsburgh alma mater song. Popular tune.)
  • The Bozner Bergsteigerlied. (Tavaron.) This song was patriotic for South Tyrolians who weren't happy about Italian fascists (who could blame them?). It's not a bad song, being fun to hike to, but it gratuitously mentions any number of local mountain peaks, sort of a checklist of places to go patriotic mountain-climbing.
  • Kong Christian stod ved højen mast. (Pierce the Pirate.) Pierce says this Danish gem has to be played whenever the monarch shows up. It praises an ancestor of his who slew some enemies. Best lines? 'His sword was hammering so fast/Through Gothic helm and brain it passed...' O-kay. . .
  • Germany again, Watch on the Rhine, recommended by a concerned h2g2 user. (Tavaron's boyfriend.) In the first place, this song assumes the Rhine needs protection from hostiles. Second, this protection involves 'clashing steel'. Oh, and the second verse points out that Germans are 'respectable, pious and strong', a sentiment which is even funnier in German than it sounds in English.
  • For awhile, it looked as if only Germans, Danes, and Austrians were honest enough to criticize their countries' patriotic music. But Professor Animal Chaos piped up with Land of Hope and Glory. Mind you, he wasn't critiquing the words so much as questioning the irony of them given 21st-century sociopolitical events. Vip and Cactuscafe admitted to singing patriotic stuff (I believe someone mentioned 'shower'), but Pastey expressed a dislike of God Save the Queen. There's a verse that rhymes 'cause' with 'voice'? Who knew?

On a positive note, I have to note that my favourite patriotic song of all time comes from Yorkshire. Yes, friends, I refer to the noble On Ilkley Moor Bat 'At.

If all patriotic music were that much fun, we wouldn't dread 4th of July concerts.

The BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1999.
General Features Archive

Dmitri Gheorgheni


Tavaron da Quirm

Pierce the Pirate



Prof Animal Chaos


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