I have a strange relationship with British patriotic music.
On the one hand, I don’t like to romanticize what happened in my previous life. The fact of the matter is, I and millions of others died under completely unnecessary circumstances. I feel like I ought to be nauseated whenever I hear “I Vow to Thee My Country” or “Land of Hope and Glory.”
Except I’m not. I can’t be. For one thing, Britain has some really heartbreakingly gorgeous songs written by very talented composers; for another… well… I could take or leave some things about it, but on the whole, I love Blighty and I guess I always will. I even managed to travel back more than once and even live a year and a half there, and I would still buy a cottage in Somerset or a cozy little canal barge for a summer home if I had that kind of money.
Anyway, have a listen if you haven’t heard these songs before.
“Jerusalem” (not sure who composed it, but William Blake, one of my favorite poets did the lyrics).
“I Vow Thee my Country” (music by Gustav Holst, originally from the “Jupiter” movement of his planets suite; a favorite of mine).
“Land of Hope and Glory” (music by Sir Edward Elgar; the tune is well-known to anyone who graduated from an American high school or university).
I will always be sick of the disregard of the privileged, of class warfare, of the historic wounds that were created needlessly; but I can never be sick of rolling hills, picturesque ancient villages, and warm and charming people. I can never be a jingoist or even a proper patriot for any land, but I can love a place because it is somewhere I enjoy being, and I can love the music that reminds me of being there.