“Civil rights, loving homes, and beating the Americans: surely we can all agree on that.” Such is the rationale behind Stephen Marche’s suggestion to change the national anthem in“(N)O Canada!” (July/August Walrus.)
While I’m sure “The Maple Leaf Forever, ” the replacement Marche recommends, is a wonderful tune, Canadians might think twice before ditching, what is in my humble opinion, the world’s best national anthem. (For what it’s worth, Ireland’s “The Soldier’s Song”(Amhran na bhFiann) runs a close second.) and unlike my native land’s national tune, both are downright sing-able!
If you had to sit there and grit your teeth through yet one more hyper-jazzed, and atonal version of “The Star Spangled Banner” — Christina Aguilera’s attempt last Thursday in The Staples Center was particularly off-putting — you might listen with fresh and appreciative ears to the simple purity of “Oh Canada.”
What Aguilera and her American counterparts frequently forget is that there is a difference between a song — to which you can improvise to your heart’s content– and an anthem – which is about devotion, loyalty, and the sacred. It’s not about an individual’s artistic talents so much as it is a collective response to national ideals.
Marche may have stumbled upon a viable alternative, however. “There’s a song that everyone in Canada already knows, one that excites the profoundest feelings of pride in the nationally psyche.” His suggestion is, of course, the former theme song for “Hockey Night in Canada.” On second thought, that would at least cover the sacred…