Stars and Stripes Forever … Literally

John Philip Sousa

Mr. Sousa -- whose music can (and will) be played again and again

As we all prepare to take off for a midweek Fourth of July celebration that will feature hundreds, if not thousands, of bands around the nation playing John Philip Sousa marches including “Stars and Stripes Forever,” I’d like to thank my Dear Old Dad for his patience.

What’s that got to do with the price of piccolos in Poughkeepsie?

When I was six years old, back in the “Mad Men” era, we had a big Magnavox stereo in our living room and a decent collection of LP records.  One of them featured John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” as played by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops.

As little kids sometimes will, one evening I enjoyed hearing “Stars and Stripes Forever” so much that I asked my father to play it again.  He obliged.

And then I asked him again.

And again.

And again.

And … at this point even I knew I was pushing my luck … again.

Well, after the sixth hearing he politely said we’d probably heard that particular piece enough for one night.  And he left me with a lifetime appreciation of his parental patience … and the ability to whistle “Stars and Stripes Forever” in my sleep.

If you’d like to prep for whistling along with tomorrow’s live playings, here’s a recording of that piece as played by the March King’s own band, courtesy of the Library of Congress National Jukebox, a delightful site that streams vintage recordings from the Victor Records collection.

What’s your favorite patriotic band music?  


  1. Ed Kinsel
    July 3, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Stars & Stripes Forever, without any doubt!

  2. Elizabeth turner
    July 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Stars and stripes forever rules!

  3. Rachael
    July 3, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    The Marine’s Hymn, of course. Spent my childhood hearing that one and it still makes me tear up.

  4. AT
    July 4, 2012 at 12:48 am

    Too many to pick a favourite. ‘America the Beautiful’ when Ray Charles sings it. And I love Meredith Willson’s ’76 Trombones’ for the energy and the sense of community and peacetime. ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ can still be quite a little journey when a good singer guides you through it.

    A new one that deserves classic status:

    ‘Hiawatha’ by Laurie Anderson

  5. Steve Ellis
    July 4, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Favorite patriotic song? “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream” by Ed McCurdy.

  6. Oswaldo A. Rodriguez
    July 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I love Bruce Springsteen’s “born in the USA”

  7. Sara Pankaskie
    July 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    I love to hear (and sing) Woody Gutherie’s great song, “This Land is Your Land.” It celebrates our country’s beauty and is not militaristic.

  8. Michelle mishur
    July 4, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    This was really great. Who doesn’t love a piccolo on the 4th. Thank you.

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