Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sending a Message Without Lyrics

Back in the 1980s, there was a brief period when the UW administration decided it was inappropriate for the UW Marching Band to play "You've Said It All" (originally a country song, but far better known as a Budweiser jingle) at Badger games.

I attended a hockey game during that brief ban. During either pre-game or an intermission, the band played a brief concert. The announcer said something about how they would not be playing "You've Said It All" and instead would present the Oak Ridge Boys' classic "American Made."

The band launched into the tune, which was immediately recognizable to the crowd as the commercial jingle "Miller's Made the American Way." Everyone laughed and applauded, and the university lifted its stupid ban on You've Said It All, since Mike Leckrone made fools of them.

Much ado was made over the Pulaski High School Marching Band's performance at the Tournament of Roses Parade on Monday. The band played the old "Red Wing Polka," which happened to be the tune Woody Guthrie used for his song "Union Maid." Many assumed it was an intentional pro-union message. Everyone affiliated with the school denied it.

I do not believe the high school band members knew anything about the "Union Maid" connections. I do not know the band director's intentions, however. If "Red Wing Polka" was in the band's repertoire a year ago, then I believe the school's claim that they were just playing a polka. If the song was only introduced to the band after the protests began in February, then I wonder why they didn't pick a better-known polka. Though I suppose it's tough to find one that isn't directly associated with beer.

1 comment:

Tim Morrissey said...

Well said. How about "No Beer In Heaven", "You Can't Buy Beer On Sunday", "Beer and Pretzels" - all fine polka tunes. I am a bit off-put that a Wisconsin band would play a song with such a direct connection to Minnesota (Red Wing)when there are so many polkas with Wisconsin place-names in the title.