Friday, June 06, 2008

But my life, my love and my lady is the sea...

Here's my try at inventing a meme. I know there's at least one former band nerd among the readers of this blog. Or is this one of those "once a band nerd, always a band nerd" kind of thing? I call this meme "Music That You Played So Much In High School Band That You Would Rather Gouge Out Your Own Eardrums Than Ever Hear Again."

Rules: the title pretty much explains it. List as many as you like. Elaborate if you like. Tag someone if you feel like it. Let me know if you write such a post, because this is something that interests me.

I'm sure I'll come up with more of these as days go by, but here are a few to start with.

1. Proud Mary
Remember when Saturday Night Live used to still be funny sometimes back in the early 80s? Eddie Murphy was playing an old blues musician being interviewed (by Brad Hall, I think). The interviewer asked him if there was one song that got requested more than any other, and his answer was, "I tell you what...I tell you what...If I ever meet the man what wrote "Proud Mary," I'm gon' kill that man." My college room-mate didn't understand why I thought this was so funny.

2. The Horse
May I be struck dead by lightning if I ever swing my saxophone rhythmically from side to side again.

3. Rebel Rouser
Summed up by our band director at the time: "I don't know...I guess some rebels are roused somewhere." Someone somewhere on the chain of command at the school board (I suppose) decided that we would change our "fight song" from the traditional old fight song that everyone uses to "Rebel Rouser." The one by Duane Eddy. It lasted only one year, then we went back to the original traditional old fight song that everyone uses.

4. Fight Song
The traditional old fight song that everyone uses. Sometimes I still hear it in my nightmares.

5. Line 93
From our warm-up and drills book, it was actually the hymn "Fairest Lord Jesus." A sweet, calming hymn of praise suitable for any Christian worship service. But no band anywhere at any time should be forced to enter the field at halftime to the tune of "Fairest Lord Jesus."

6. The Work Song
Conditionally. I still dig hearing real jazz versions of this song, but if I ever hear another marching band play it, it's gonna be icepick time.

7. Battaglia
I don't know who wrote it. This was a concert piece, not a marching piece, and we had to play it for our spring concert one year. It was the only piece we ever played that actually put us in danger of falling asleep while we were playing. The tuba player once started to nod off and gave one of the baritone horns a mild concussion. Okay, just kidding on that part, but the tuba player did always refer to it as "Baffaglia." I had my mother record that concert, and I told her, "When he says we're going to play "Battaglia," don't record it." Later on she told me, "I see what you mean..."

8. Hey Look Me Over
From the terrible year when we had an absolutely horrible band director. This was the only song we played when we marched in the S.A. Stock Show Parade that year. Everyone was filled with joy when we learned that he wouldn't be back the next year.

Some lesser pieces that I could probably hear without violently deafening myself, but which would probably make me run screaming from the stadium: Hot Stuff, You're The One That I Want, Money (the one by Bay City Rollers).

If you were a band nerd from the late 70s/early 80s, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "What about 'Brandy'? Surely you also hate 'Brandy'! How could you leave out 'Brandy'?" Well, they did play that song to death in the 70s, but by the time I got into high school band (around '77 or '78), they had moved past that phase. We played it once or twice as sort of an exercise in ironic self-awareness, but that's all. So I never really developed an antipathy for it. (Update: "Brandy" was by the group Looking Glass. I forgot to mention that.)


  1. This one time, at band camp ...

    Yeah, I was band nerd. Actually, I was a damn good trumpet player. While some of the tunes we played in 7th and 8th grade were a bit lame, I can't say any of them where that bad. Or maybe I'm not quite as sensitive to that. Our director was a jazz musician. In addition to the regular school band, I played in what was called "stage band", where we did stuff that was usually a bit more difficult, and more fun. Watermelon Man, for example.

    Now high school band was a different story, and I've mostly blotted it from my memory. Complete fogey stuff, boring as hell, simplistic arrangements, no challenge. The only title that I can remember is Zacatacas. Hell, played by a decent band, it might even be a good tune, but I wouldn't know it from high school band. I'm pretty sure we massacred something by Grofe as well. And god forbid we would play anything at all contemporary.

  2. I was in "stage band" in high school. Alto sax. I was also in two jazz bands in college, playing bari sax in the #1 band and alto in the #2.

    We played Zacatacas in HS marching band also.

  3. The songs I hated because we played them so much:

    - "On Wisconsin" (I think this is the ubiquitous "fight song")
    - "On Broadway"
    - Anything by John Williams

    But, I did kind of like "Basin Street Blues", even though we played the crap out of that, too.