Never has there been a better musical metaphor for the disaster of the Bush Presidency than this audio clip from the visit of the Pope Benedict XVI to the White House on April 16th. Thanks to my hero, Tom Allen of the CBC (who will be tragically let go this fall, much to my agony, but enough about that for the time being), his sharp ears picked up this amazing fiasco of Hail to the Chief:[audio:Hail_to_the_idiot.mp3]
Here’s the quote from Tom Allen’s Junk Drawer:
Here’s the musical event Charles Ives waited for his entire life. On April 16, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI visited the White House. Two musical groups were there to welcome him — the Herald Trumpets from the US Army Band, and the President’s Own Marine Band. The President, not surprisingly, was there, too. Protocol says that any time the President of the United States turns up in an official role, the band has to play “Hail to the Chief.” As you hear from the clip, protocol apparently doesn’t say they have to play it in just one key. The story is that one group came to rehearsal and the other didn’t, so they ended up, at the big moment, playing the same piece in different keys. I’ve received, predictably, contradictory reports of which group, the Army or the Marines, fired in the wrong direction, but the result was a direct hit for music fans who like their military bands on the experimental side. It’s fantastic!
I found out this morning that it was because one of the groups was a ‘civilian’ group. This was the musical equivalent of ‘friendly fire’ between American troops and Military contractors.