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It's easily Simon & Garfunkel's "America," Joe...any song that references the New Jersey Turnpike is aces in my book.
MLK "I Have A Dream"
Circle me Ray! For me, it's no contest given the two choices in the original post: Nobody makes "America the Beautiful" truly beautiful like Ray Charles could. His Tribute to Heroes concert performance of the song shortly after 9/11... wow. RIP, Brother Ray.Among the choices in the poll, it's still Brother Ray, but that 1980 hockey game in Lake Placid was so important for so many reasons and I still get goosebumps when I hear Al Michaels deliver that most famous line - an unparalleled call made all the greater in that it was unscripted. We'll never have a Perfect Sports Moment like that again. I also saw Whitney Houston perform the Star Spangled Banner live at Notre Dame Stadium, during the opening ceremony for the 1987 Special Olympics world games. It was a moment that stands out in an incredible week where I had the privilege of meeting some of the most courageous, amazing athletes in the world. Thanks for bringing up some great memories this morning.
I guess I'm sort of playing turd in the punchbowl here (and cross-commenting too!), and for that I apologize, but I really can't get behind John Wayne's Pledge of Allegiance as anywhere near as quintessentially American as Ray Charles's America the Beautiful. I have nothing against John Wayne, but I've always chafed at the Pledge of Allegiance because of the "under God" clause Eisenhower shoehorned in. It ruins the meter of it and excludes any and all Americans who don't believe in God. I realize atheism is nationally unpopular, at least in terms of public debate, but that doesn't make it any less American than any other belief.Contrast that with America the Beautiful. I know it also references God, but it isn't any sort of officially sanctioned vow, just a gorgeous song. Add to that Ray's version, which is both true to the song and uniquely his. Compound with that the fact that Ray Charles is in many ways the American dream embodied, a man who grew up blind, poor and racially disadvantaged but overcame all of that through talent and will, and I don't see how it's close.John Wayne is a great actor, but as Americana goes he to me is a symbol of a particular brand, and not one with the broad inclusiveness of Ray Charles. I love his movies and have nothinig against his rendition of the Pledge, but for me it can't come close to competing with Ray.
The answer is obviously a fat guy burping the alphabet at a NASCAR race. No, wait- a fat woman.
Maybe it's just me, but I've always found Denis Leary's song "A**hole" to be a fairly solid commentary on America today.
I really don't like the pledge of allegiance. It kind of creeps me out. I would prefer something more along the lines of, "I pledge allegiance to the United States of America..."
I'm at work with no sound, so I can't actually listen to John Wayne right now. I don't know which version he is reciting, but I'm guessing it's the post-Ike version. Frankly, I find it creepy and oddly indoctrinating. Certainly, it is representative of a segment of America, but, in the ideal, I like to think America is about inclusiveness (even if it very often isn't). That, at least, is what America is at it's best. Ray Charles, that's just about loving your country even though it has problems. It makes me feel good about where I come from. The pledge just makes me kind of sad.
Ray Charles. Definitely.
Of the 2 (Wayne and Ray), its Ray BY FAR.
I've always felt the Pledge was a little TOO patriotic - a subtle way to indoctrinate kids in unquestioning nationalism.
The way little kids are forced to recite the pledge of allegiance like robots each morning always feels like something out of a dystopia to me. And then, yeah, the under god thing is also kind of insane. And John Wayne, in my opinion, stands for an outdated and actually kind of idiotic concept of masculinity. So this one is easy. Ray Charles rules.
When I was a kid, no one ever explained to us what anything in the Pledge was even supposed to mean. I guess at some point I knew what "indivisible" meant, but I never stopped to think about, nor did anyone suggest I should, what it meant for a country to be indivisible or why it mattered.After 6th grade I refused to say it and after 7th I refused to even stand. And this being America I shouldn't have had to.
I am a white Kansas farm boy, but for me the fact that Ray Charles is a black man singing "America the Beautiful" takes it even further over the top. I think it would win anyway, but given America's original sins of eradicating the native Americans and enslaving Africans, the fact that we have made such progress in our history that he can sing this without an iota of irony is truly beautiful.I am right with Jason on the pledge, post-Ike.
Zac, just don't go to a courtroom in Mississippi. Not saying the pledge will get you thrown in the pokey for contempt. Well-earned contempt, I might add, but contempt nonetheless.http://nmisscommentor.com/law/lawyer-jailed-by-chancellor-for-failing-to-rise-and-recite-pledge-of-allegiance/
Is this a joke, Joe? I hope John Wayne reading the Pledge of Allegience is not one of the things that best represents America. The Pledge is an unnecessary, mind-washing exercise that becomes more ridiculous the more you pay attention to what it says. Maybe John Wayne in Red River or The Searchers...
Flock of cahdinals, baby!
Nathan Hale and Patick Henry sharing a slice of apple pie at a baseball game, wearing clothing sewn by Betsy Ross.
It seems "America the Beautiful" was written in 1893 in the shadow of Pike's Peak. It is singable. It includes thanks to pilgrims, patriots, and heroes; acknowledges flaws; asks for grace, self-control, and brotherhood; and imagery similar to redwood forests, gulf steam waters, golden valleys, and diamond deserts.(What about Pete Seeger singing "This Land"?)The Pledge of Allegiance was written the year before, as part of the celebration of 400 years since Columbus's arrival, in part to sell flags. It fit a national mood of suspicion about the New Immigration. The words "equality" and "fraternity" which its author intended were omitted (women and people of color weren't equal, and authority didn't want their equality implied), and "under God" was added at the height of McCarthyism in 1954.As to John Wayne and Ray Charles. . . .
I wonder what the results would be for a poll asking, "Would you participate in an internet poll?"
Anon:Just another reason to never, ever, ever go to Mississippi.
@David in Toledo:I'll second the "This Land Is Your Land" suggestion...but Pete Seeger?! It's Woody Guthrie through and through.
@David in Toledo (great name, BTW): What about Woody Guthrie singing "This Land"?An answer song (to "God Bless America") sung by a folk hero playing a guitar marked "This machine kills Fascists" -- how you gonna top that?http://tinyurl.com/2bz65qd
Lee Greenwood "God Bless the USA".
@David in NYCWith respect to pitching gems, what about the All-Dave All-Star pitching staff, which includes two Daves who have thrown perfect games, four others with no-hitters, and David Price (for starters, in both senses).
Star Spangled Banner sung by Marvin Gaye at the NBA All-Star Game
Ray. No doubt. I remember driving through Washington D.C. about six weeks after Sept. 11. It was a warm, bright, sunny day, especially for late October. I saw the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building in the distance, and Ray was singing "America." I knew then we just might be all right.But for my money, nothing shows the American experience, at least for me, like Bruce Springsteen's "American Land:"http://www.metacafe.com/watch/sy-1468242158/bruce_springsteen_american_land_official_music_video/
Ray singing America the Beautiful is inclusive. I feel like I'm part of his vision of America. But I don't believe John Wayne would want me in his America. I think Woody Guthrie's This Land gives Ray some stiff competition though.
How about the name Tommy Tomlinson? Sounds like a character from The Sandlot.
What could be more "quintessentially American" than the 2nd runner-up from the previous season of American Idol singing the opening stanza of The Star-Spangled Banner 48 minutes after the scheduled time of the first pitch of a World Series game?
I would also second the nomination of Woodie Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land." Then again, I'm a bit of a Socialist.
Steak: I always thought of myself as more of a Bad News Bear.
@David in Toledo:I'd say that's a pretty damn good start. ;-)@Anonymous 12:44PM:Truly an astonishing performance (people clapping in time to "The Star-Spangled Banner"?! Really?!), but it's still a lousy song.For those of you who haven't seen it (the year is 1983):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRvVzaQ6i8A
The correct answer is C. The separation of church and state.
Ray, but I am biased. I could listen to Ray singing the declarations of my auto insurance policy. I can understand Woody Guthrie singing "This Land," though it wouldn't be my choice. I threw up a little when I read the Lee Greenwood "God Bless the USA" suggestion.
Love John Wayne, but Ray Charles in a landslide. I have to tell you, though, that when I think of music that is "quintessentially American," I always go straight to just about any song by Creedence Clearwater Revival. For whatever that's worth.
at first I thought this was a dumb question - as others have mentioned the pledge is actually a bit of a worry when you actually look at what it's saying. But then I reread the question - what is more AMERICAN. Well, some actor pretending to be a tough tobacco spittn' cowboy declaring some dumb scary stuff just might be more American. Sad.
I won't vote for either as none of them hold much meaning to me as far as being "American."So I wouldn't have commented at all except for the silly Ben comment and the many following on after about the Pledge.Personally I despise most religions as being just a means to control humans but if people who take ancient words as gospel are stupid, then the atheists who cannot see with their own eyes that there clearly has to be a creator are maybe more so - if that is possible.Still, this nation was founded as one which follows "God" so it doesn't surprise me when I see phrases like "under God" scattered about our founding writings. Somehow I manage to not take offense at such a minor thing when the important thing is the way this country was formed: to have people treated equally under the law and then traveling a path to actually reach that goal.So if I were to pick a quintessential American image, it would be Ben Franklin or George Washington. Who doesn't like a horny, intelligent, diplomatic yet political, wise, wise, wise man? Or a leader who somehow managed to put off people who wanted to make him a King or a President for life?You cannot name anyone more representative of America than those two - not in my view.
I voted for Whitney because of a) my age (32, I was 13 then and it stands out) and; b) the imagery of the fighter planes flying overhead and the flag waving and the war background are all quintessentially American and;c) it took place at the Super Bowl, the most American of all American events, a made-for-TV spectacular, made specifically for commercials that allows us to:1) gamble 2) drink excessively and;3) eat lots of horrible food. What could be more American than that? That might be the most American moment in American history.
I doesn't get much more American than John Wayne and the fact that he's reciting the pledge... dang. But, something about Ray's performance seems so rich and resonant, like it represents the various cultures that makes us up. It's the song you would want playing over a montage of "America" images.
well, John Wayne was an unabashed racist (http://www.playboy.com/articles/john-wayne-interview), so would that make him more "quintessentially American"?Probably.
Wow, unless I skimmed over it, not even a consideration of Marvin Gaye singing the Star Spangled Banner at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRvVzaQ6i8A
Between the two? Brother Ray in a rout. I have no time for John Wayne.I'd say Jimi Hendrix' SBB at Woodstock. Noisy, frightening, disjointed, and at the same time; beautiful.
The Declaration of Independence acknowledges God as the origin of all natural rights (including, we Americans would agree, the right to believe what you want about God). It was an important distinction at the time, and it still is today, between pledging your allegiance to a state that has the power to take away your rights whenever it wants and a state that ultimately honors your God-given rights, and, failing to do so, deserves to be changed. The "under God" in the pledge is entirely appropriate, rooted in the history of our nation (both the Enlightenment framers and the religious framers), and does not even require belief in God as much as a higher ideal than the state itself.The "under God" is the ONLY part of the pledge that makes it NOT overly patriotic and indoctinating, because instead of blindly pledging allegiance to a state, you are pledging allegiance to a republic that recognizes a higher value and standard to which it is accountable.I still chose Ray Charles because I like it better, but good grief, people. Distancing ourselves from Communism and Fascism was a GOOD thing.
Of Joe's choices, I go with "Who's On First."But I love the suggestion of Woody's "This Land Is Your Land." I've always thought this line is beautiful poetry:"As I went walkin'/that ribbon of highwayI saw above me/that endless skywayI saw below me/that golden valleyThis land was made for you and me.Chills (and a couple stray tears) every time I hear that one.
Lots of good choices here. Agree completely with previous Anonymous.
How many times can a blogger say "my friend" my good friend" "my very good friend" "my dear friend" "my buddy" before it becomes meaningless Vegas style schmoozing. If EVERYONE is your dear friend then really you have no true friends. It's just hollywood fake kissing up-. If there was a drinking game where you had to take a shot every time Joe Pozer wrote a variation of "my friend" I would be dead from alcohol poisoning very quickly.For the record the most patriotic song in American History is Jimi Hendrix Star Spangled Banner, of course Poser since we are such good friends you knew thathugs and kisses XXXX 0000The Mirror
How the hell is Whitney Houston a choice and the "I Have A Dream" speech isn't? Ay carumba.
Another vote here for Woody Guthrie singing "This Land is Your Land" - preferably the rarely heard version with the verse about the sign that said "no trespassing" -- But on the other sideIt didn't say nothingThis land was made for you and me
A recording intended as a commercial recording: Ray and Woody in a tie for me.But since FDR (whom I love) is in there, so recorded speeches count. Well then, nothing can top:And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.But not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!3
Ray. Easy."America The Beautiful" should be the national anthem. It is a far better song than "The Star-Spangled Banner". It's almost as good a song as "This Land Is Your Land", and it's a hundred or so years older.
It's a travesty that Frank Drebin's version of The Star-Spangled Banner is not in this poll. A travesty I say!
"I Aint Marching Anymore" by Phil Ochs is #1 for me.
You can't beat John Wayne. Always defer to "The Duke".......I'll vote for "The Pledge"...
James Madison's "Memorial And Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments."Or "Johnny B. Goode."But John Wayne, that hopeless fake, reading the McCarthyized Pledge?Please.
"if people who take ancient words as gospel are stupid, then the atheists who cannot see with their own eyes that there clearly has to be a creator are maybe more so - if that is possible." -- Anonymous @6:13PMYou mean people like Stephen Hawking, right? Typical arrogant ignorance from a "believer".And I guess, in many depressing ways, Whiney Houston's version of the National Anthem is "quintessentially American" -- let's celebrate killing people who have not attacked us at a spectacle intended to induce soporific drunkenness and encourage completely mindless consumerism, and BTW, I'm not even going to sing it live, I'm going to lip-sync it.Sounds -- unfortunately -- just about right to be "quintessentially American".Jimi Hendrix' version is vastly superior in every way, not the least of which that it was actually performed live.
i'd prefer mark twain doing whatever he felt like doing...
How would people vote if it were Ray Charles reading the pledge of allegiance and John Wayne "singing" America the Beautiful. I also wonder if you had to recite or sing america the beautiful everyday in school if it would get many votes. Or if the pledge of allegiance were sung and america the beautiful were recited.None of the "under God" reasons for the pledge of allegiance ring true to me since God is mentioned in America the Beautiful. Both seem to recognize God as a higher power.
It has to be the scene in The Sandlot with America playing in the backgound and Benny Rodriguez is rounding the bases and all the other boys are staring at the fireworks on the 4th of July. The only way this would be better is if John Wayne was the umpire.
I would say that a few of the "Most American Things" ever recorded aren't on the list.NEIL ARMSTRONG LANDING ON THE MOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!And what about Martin Luther King's speech?And I'm glad Reagan made it on the list, but I would argue that his most American speech was the one telling Gorbachev to stick it (and tear down this wall!)
Whoever up top said that the Declaration of Independence acknowledges "God" needs to read a little better, or stop reading the Christianist propaganda that's floating around. There is a reference to "Divine Providence" -- which could be anything -- and to "Nature's God," which would cover the Druids. And, in any case, the Declaration is not the founding document. The Constitution is, and its framers resolutely resisted any mention of any concept of a deity whatsoever, to the point where the damn thing nearly didn't pass because of it.
In the late 70's I heard Ella Fitzgerald (whom I knew almost nothing about) sing the National Anthem a cappella before a Duke football game. At the end I was in tears and the hairs on the back of my deck were standing up, it was so beautiful. Greatest American singer ever.
This country is so basically rotten that a vicious, bigoted pig like John Wayne is a great national hero. Thomas Jefferson would have been horrified by a monster like Wayne--and Wayne, given a shot across the time-span, would be proud to pistol-ship a "radical punk" like Jefferson. John Wayne is a final, rotten symbol of everything that went wrong with the American Dream. He is our Frankenstein monster, a hero to millions. Wayne is the ultimate and perhaps final "American." He beats the mortal shit out of anything he can't understand. The brainwaves of "The Duke" are like those of the Hammerhead Shark--a beast so stupid and irrationally vicious that scientists have abandoned all hope of dealing with it, except as an unexplainable "Throw Back."
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