Cheers to the anthem
A graduate of the University of Toronto, Trevor Hutchinson is a songwriter, writer and bookkeeper. He serves as Contributing Editor at The Lindsay Advocate. He lives with his fiancee and their five kids in Lindsay.
The other night I was enjoying a beautiful Bud Light while taking a crack at coming up with rewrites to our national anthem.
Nah, I am kidding. I have never been a big fan of Bud Light, or at least until I found out that as a soldier in the culture wars, I am supposed to like it and even conspicuously consume it. I have bought the Pride-themed special edition packaging for an LGBTQ2S+ friend to show solidarity but I really have only ever drank the stuff in an emergency. (A beer emergency, obviously.)
And not that I’m a beer snob. I wish I was all about micro-brews but I just like a different (very corporate) beer, better.
And there is no anthem change I could suggest that would ever be better than Canadian soul singer Jully Black’s change at the 2023 NBA all-star game. Her subtle change of one line to “our home on Native land” is beyond brilliant. I for one think we should all start singing it that way.
Some, especially the ‘but you can’t just change history’ crowd might object to changing the anthem. To be fair, all of us can be change resistant. When Peter Gabriel left the rock band Genesis in 1975, was it still really Genesis with Phil Collins singing? Tough call.
But if we learn anything on this mortal coil it is that life is change. And history? It is the study of change over time.
Take our anthem for example. The original song, commissioned in 1880 was originally in French. It went through several different translations. In 1908, a leading magazine of the time had a competition to rewrite the English translation.
The religious fourth verse that people have argued about for years was itself added in 1926, almost half a century after the original. Some people may recall the argument of taking out the gendered “in all thy sons command” which grabbed the occasional headline from 1990 until well past the official change by parliament in 2016. Opponents of this change always seemed to omit the fact that “in all thy sons command” was itself a change made in 1913, changing it from a gender-neutral translation.
Not to mention that ‘O Canada’ didn’t even become our national anthem until 1980.
But what does a corporate beer currently facing organized opposition to its seasonal Pride packaging and our ever-changing national anthem have in common? For some of us, over the next two months, quite a lot. Bud Light is the official beer of the NHL and it is hockey playoff time, which for some reason involves national anthems even though it is not a competition between countries.
So those of us who love hockey will hear the anthem quite a few times and some of us might just raise a pride-packaged beer to toast change and our favourite team.