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Sunday, September 11, 2011

On 9/11/01 plus ten

For four and one-half year, including the four football seasons from Fall 1975 through 1979, I had the honor of playing trumpet in the Showband of the Southwest, the University of Texas Longhorn Band. Beginning with a summer band concert in June 1975, and on several other occasions afterwards, I had the thrill of playing the Carmen Dragon arrangement of "America the Beautiful," which is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful versions of that song I've ever heard.

Here's the current LHB, with a re-arrangement of Carmen Dragon's arrangement done for LHB by my good friend and KKY brother Randol Bass, from last night's tribute (at the BYU vs UT halftime) to 9/11's victims and those who've defended our country before and after. It still sends chills up my spine and brings tears to my eyes, and yes, I gave in to the immediate compulsion to get out my trumpet so I could play along at home with the brass triplets at the ending:

I am a man of words. But today I'm going to let this music — played by these college-age men and women, in a tradition of which I am proud to have been a part — say everything I have to say on the subject.

If you don't feel your heart swell with emotion by about 1:20 in this clip — "Thine alabaster cities gleam / Undimm'd by human tears" — then you're not any flavor of American to which I can relate, and you may not be human at all.

Posted by Beldar at 07:27 PM in Global War on Terror, History, Texas | Permalink


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(1) DRJ made the following comment | Sep 11, 2011 8:35:56 PM | Permalink

God bless America and Texas.

(2) DRJ made the following comment | Sep 11, 2011 8:44:34 PM | Permalink

Not only is the arrangement excellent and the band superb, but I can actually hear the lyrics and it seems like a lot of people are singing along. That made it even more special.

(3) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 11, 2011 10:49:54 PM | Permalink

DRJ, I agree re the singing. I think they were showing the lyrics on the Jumbotron in the end zone — not that many people know the last verse! But hearing the singing and other crowd noises, plus the scale of the video (itty bitty figures down on the field, enormous stadium holding tens of thousands), really made me feel like I was running the whole emotional gamut inspired by that music along with 100k countrymen. And that was just what I needed tonight. It's an uplifting and hope-filled song, but I jotted down my impressions/emotions as the phrases progressed:

0:00 reverence
0:20 brotherhood
0:30 remembrance
0:40 purpose
0:45 unity
0:55 couples finding one another
1:05 kids
1:12 grandkids
1:18 secure at home, bathed in light and love
1:30 humbled, appreciative
1:40 resolved
1:47 bold
1:52 defiant
1:55 triumphant
2:00 calm

Very cathartic, actually.

(4) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 12, 2011 10:20:16 AM | Permalink

Editing note: I found this clip through a link on Facebook from my KKY pledge brother Don Winstel, and my good friend Hal Klein (another KKY brother and fellow LHB trumpeter) corrected me by pointing out that this isn't the Carmen Dragon arrangement, but rather a re-arrangement of his military band arrangement done by our LHB/KKY brother and composer/arranger extraordinaire, Randol Bass. I've changed the text of this post accordingly.

(5) DRJ made the following comment | Sep 12, 2011 4:51:45 PM | Permalink

Cathartic is a good description. It was emotional for me, especially at 1:10 to 1:20 when the Band completed the move from "Texas" to "USA." I'm not musical so this may not be the correct way to describe it, but the accompanying crescendo with lyrics "America, America, God shed his grace on thee" = Perfect.

(6) bud made the following comment | Sep 14, 2011 1:36:54 PM | Permalink

I know what you mean about patriotic tunes in the right circumstances raising the hair on the back of your neck.

Different band (Pitt), different instrument(tenor sax), different circumstance (playing Army in Yankee Stadium, pre-Viet Nam in '63)and a different tune (Stars and Stripes Forever), but the entire stadium was on their feet cheering by the end.

(Technically, I credit the piccolo. We had the most incongruous sight- a 6'4", 240# guy playing, and you could hear that thing over the other 120 guys, all the way to the top of the stadium.)

(7) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 14, 2011 6:41:21 PM | Permalink

Bud (#6), Pitt traditionally has a great band, and I agree with you about the piccolos! My ex-wife was a piccolo player in the Longhorn Band, and their top-notes make the rich brass and other woodwinds about three times as exciting in a big stadium.

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