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Thursday, November 6, 2008

GMVW # 44: "Home is where the Heart Is"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 44:  Home is where the Heart Is
Song:  Philadelphia Freedom by Elton John
(Songwriters Bernie Taupin and Elton John)
November 6, 2008

Ending a business trip to South Carolina last Thursday, I found myself in another nightmare of a commute home.  On the tarmac and ready to go, the pilot reported that one of the engines was not working.  The plane returned to the terminal and everyone got off.  It was strongly suggested that we all look for alternative flights.  The best option for me was a 4 hour layover in Philadelphia, which would get me home after midnight.  Yahoo!  Accepting my fate, I begrudgingly took the ticket.  Several hours later, the plane landed in the City of Brotherly Love, and I found myself with 4 hours to kill.

Philadelphia.  It was not long before I realized I was in a city that had just the night before experienced its first sporting event championship in 25 years.  The Phillies were World Champs, and the atmosphere of victory was palpable.  A ticket agent yelled out something about the Phillies that got cheers.  Winning tee-shirts were being worn all around.  Local newspapers were completely sold out.  News programs on the TV were dominated with the celebration. I thought any moment The Music Man would come marching around the corner with a crowd in his wake. 

This championship was huge for this city, not the least of reasons being Boston.  Boston and Philly have always had a steady sports rivalry.  Both East Coast cities have a team in all 4 major sports, and Philadelphia could not take much more of Boston’s winning ways.  In years past, it was always just a matter of time before Philly reacted to a Boston championship:  The Broad Street Bullies (Flyers) began winning in the mid-70’s, soon after the Big Bad Bruins hoisted a few Stanley Cups; Dr. J, Moses Malone and the 76ers (“4, 4, 4!”) reacted to Larry Bird’s first championship with the Celtics (Malone’s declaration of 3 playoff sweeps actually sounded more like “Fo, Fo, Fo”); and the Philadelphia Eagles stepped up their game just enough to be the Patriots 3rd Super Bowl conquest several years ago.  So, with last week’s championship, kudos to the Phillies, but their fans must keep in mind, if it was the Sox they were facing (especially with Manny), it would have been another year of waiting. 

Anyhow, the excitement got me thinking about regional pride and songs about places.  There are so many great songs about cities, states, and countries.  Longtime friend Phil had many of them ready in the wings when we were kids playing Monopoly.  If he owned Indiana Ave and you landed on it, Phil would break out into song: "Indiana wants me, Lord I can't go back there".  If you landed on his Kentucky Ave property, it was "My Old Kentucky Home", Tennessee Ave would result in the 'Tennessee Waltz'.  Many others I have long since blocked out.

When Joe moved to San Francisco for a few years, I had no problem finding a slew of songs about that city, and put them on tape for his listening pleasure.  Bob Dylan, who DJs the fantastic ‘Theme Time Radio Hour’ program on XM radio’s Deep Cuts, did a show on California last year, and the songs he played and discussed were varied and memorable.  Among the list were  Al  Jolson’s ‘California Hear I Come’; Joni Mitchell’s ‘California’; Pierce Webb’s ‘California Blues’; Geraint Watkins with ‘Go West’; Dionne Warwick singing ‘Do You Know the Way to San Jose’; Sir Douglas Quartet’s ‘Mendocino’; Jesse Fuller’s ‘San Francisco Bay Blues’; and Dorothy Shay singing ‘I’ve Been to Hollywood’. 

As for Philadelphia, the city has 3 great songs that come immediately to mind: Neil Young’s ‘Philadelphia’; Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Streets of Philadelphia’, and this week’s Gem, Elton John’s ‘Philadelphia Freedom’.  The song was written by Bernie Taupin in 1975, and is at least partially a tribute to this country and its then 200th Anniversary (Philadelphia being one of the central cities to our Independence).  Other interpretations of the song are as a tribute to Billie Jean King and the professional tennis team she formed (Philadelphia Freedom), as well as Elton John’s sexual orientation.  Regardless of the meaning, there is no denying the pop strength of this song.   The song is also appropriate for the mood in Philadelphia over the past few days: A city with a large black population and a city that voted 84% (the full range of ethnicities) for Obama.  Enjoy the flashback to mid-70’s Soul Train and crank it up!

Gem Music Video: Philadelphia Freedom

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About the Video: mid-70’s Soul Train

Video Rating: 2
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Best Feedback:  Amy

Pete!  Another Gem - another Friday - they go hand in hand for me now.I sent this one off to Julie Snell, who went off to college w/ a full scholarship to Tyler School of Art in Philly - fell in love, and never came home!  She now works for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in charge of Philly's gardens all over the city.
xoA

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