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City ditty isn't witty Sing-along: We waited 200 years for this?


What would a bicentennial celebration be without a bicentennial song?

Quieter, for one thing. And, after hearing Baltimore's bicentennial song a few times, you may find yourself wishing the city had commissioned a celebratory "Sshhh!" instead.

To put it bluntly, this is no "New York, New York" or "Chicago." It's not even "There's No Surf in Cleveland." It's just a glorified jingle. Composed by former Kleer (remember their 1981 hit "Get Tough"? No?) drummer Woody Cunningham, the imaginatively titled "Baltimore Bicentennial Song" plays up the pleasures of Charm City with all the witless faux-enthusiasm of an ad agency hack.

To wit:

Since 1797

Two centuries is our score

Some may want to call it heaven

We just call it Baltimore

There's nothing about the song that in any way conveys the charm or spirit of our city. Instead, what we get is a laundry list of neighborhoods, the names of a few famous Baltimoreans and constant reminders to "join in" and "sing along."

As if. Even though the "Bicentennial Song" is being offered in no less than four equally anonymous versions -- fake country, fake R&B;, fake pop and fake jazz instrumental -- its bland, rambling verses and considerably less-than-catchy chorus are no more likely to inspire sing-alongs than the Sominex jingle.

It doesn't help that the lyrics often make no sense whatsoever. The obligatory sports couplet, for instance, is a masterpiece of ungrammatical construction: "Got the spirit, don't forget the Ravens/Yes, the Orioles."

Yes, the Orioles what? Almost rhyme with "Edgar Allan Poe"?

There's even a bit of civic misinformation in the song. According to Cunningham, "At Fort McHenry Francis Scott Key/Wrote the National Song." Well, apart from the fact that it's the national anthem, not "National Song," Key did not write it at Fort McHenry. As everyone who paid attention in history class knows, he wrote it in Baltimore Harbor, watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry from the deck of a ship.

A history-celebrating song that can't even get its history right. Kinda makes you proud to be a Baltimorean, doesn't it?

A musical pick

To hear the "Baltimore Bicentennial Song," call Sundial at 410-783-1800 and enter the code 6162. For other local Sundial numbers, see the directory on Page 2A.

Pub Date: 7/03/97

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