Our National Music? Song? Dance?
What's a good national song and dance? ...I watched "Long Way Round" the other day, about the two movie stars riding their enduro motorcycles around the world. Good buddy flick.
As they visited countries the locals would show them hospitality and, in the case of the Ukraine in particular, during the resulting party their hosts would sing them some local songs and show them some local dances. There was cultural and national pride.
To return the favor, Ewan played guitar sweetly and dreamily in a couple scenes. Noodling-style guitar. Basically, his offering didn't compare to the vivacious gusto and distinctive flavor that was shown to him and his pal, time and again.
So I wonder what songs might represent the American culture in a good light to foreigners, what kind of tune would hold up against other ethnic/cultural/national melodies and rhythms. And what about dance?
(I thought I posted about this before, but I can't find it and I don't recall any supercool nominations. So here it is again!)
I think we have to exclude songs and dances created for personal, private, commercial reasons, unless they happen to also represent us well. I doubt that the heritage music of other countries is privately owned.
Offhand, I can't think of an American dance that isn't effectively private (due to the accompanying music, such as pop dance) or interpersonal rather than social -- other than Contra Dance. (Country line dancing is a bit like Contra except it's also private due to the commercial soundtrack.) Contra, of course, comes from the Old Country 1800's in large part, but what can ya do.
I mentioned this question to a pal and he suggested Big Rock Candy Mountain. ...Excellent song and quite typifying. Except it kinda puts down work and maybe even achievement and is actually a bum song, of course, so, although it's wonderful maybe it should be pulled out after the first few numbers. : )
"This Land is Your Land" is pretty good. Except it's kinda off. And although the tune is strong when you put it up against Ukrainian folk music or love ballads it just doesn't hold a candle gusto-wise or musically.
We need something strong! ...That is, if that would be representative. What's an American, anyway? ...Bold, egalitarian, risk-taker, can-do, make-do, gitterdone. Sounds good to me!