Sunday, February 11, 2007
a new national anthem for England?
Not sure what I feel about national anthems. Quite a few seem to be about beating the ancient enemy [whoever that is]. Perhaps I don't like the way that they draw me into their fervour. Perhaps I'm just jealous that other countries seem to have better anthems than us? Which leads me to ask, how about a new national anthem for England? How can 'God save our Gracious Queen' be England's anthem when the Queen and that anthem belong to the whole of the United Kingdom? How about an anthem that gives us a vision for what England and the English could become at our best - a generous, inventive and open-hearted people in a beautiful country of dramatic coasts, rolling hills and spirited cities.
Suggestion: let's look for something to come out of the new English folk tradition, in the same way that Scotland's de facto national anthem is the brilliant 'Flower of Scotland' by Roy Williamson of the Corries? Here's some songs from the new English folk tradition that convey some positive stuff about England, and even if they are not anthemic enough they could perhaps inspire a song that is...
Maggie Holland's 'A place called England' [I only know the excellent version by June Tabor]:
'come all you at home with freedom whatever the land that gave you birth
there's room for you both root and branch as long as you love the English earth...
for England is not flag or Empire, it is not money it is not blood
it's limestone gorge and granite fell, it's Wealeden clay and Severn mud'
'Sweet England' [traditional - check out the brilliant version by Jim Moray on the CD 'Sweet England'] about an emigration to America that went wrong and a subsequent returning to England...
'there's a neat little cottage with a rose at the door
and there with my aunt I would live my life oer
I'd nurse her in sickness and tend to her pain
and thank God I'm back in sweet England again
sweet England again'
If that's too twee try this from Show of Hands, from the song 'Roots' on their latest album Witness
'without our stories or our songs
how will we know where we've come from?
I've lost St George in the Union Jack
it's my flag too and I want it back
seed, bud, flower, root
never gonna grow without their roots'
Anybody know if Billy Bragg has a song that might work?