The Corner


Star-Spangled Sounds

Ray Charles (Paolo Cocco / Reuters)

In a below post, I comment on the Fourth of July, and, specifically, how to celebrate it. (This is the cause of some debate.) The question is very individual, very personal, obviously.

Just about my favorite way is with music — and my new episode of Music for a While is devoted to America. The sounds of America, if you will, and also its ideas, because songs bring words, which bring ideas.

Although you’re entitled to ask, What are the ideas of “Camptown Races”? This corny, lovable song is heard in my episode three times, in a way. First, there’s a hint of it at the end of Gottschalk’s Banjo. Second, there’s the song itself (in a whizbang arrangement). Third, there’s a hint of it in Ives’s Symphony No. 2.

In this 40 minutes or so, I’ve got piano pieces, hymns, an orchestral blowout, a spiritual — and a slew of performers, from Eugene Ormandy to Ray Charles (guess what he’s doing?).

Happy Fourth, y’all, and happy listening, if you like — again, here.

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