“I can hear the marching band
Doing the best they can to play
Smoke on the Water
And Joy to the World”
– James McMurtry, “Levelland”
If you’re a fan of classic rock music and you’ve been listening for any length of time, you probably recognize all the songs the instant they start playing on the radio.
Name that tune
You might pride yourself for being able to guess the tune after only a few notes. However, you may annoy your teenagers by singing the first couple of lines prematurely to showcase this knowledge, which although impressive to you, means nothing outside of long-gone game shows and Trivial Pursuit. It’s not like you have to memorize an endless stockpile of songs to excel at this feat. Obviously, classic rock radio stations pull from the same sparse reservoir of songs and spoon feed them to the listeners.
Don’t start boasting just yet about your song recognition aptitude.
Out of your element
What would happen if you heard some of these same songs out of context, packaged differently than they were originally intended to be heard? You might not be so quick to name that tune. It would nag at you, this audio déjà vu, as you tried to recognize the song and reorder it into its proper place in your world.
It would be like running into your teacher at the grocery store. You know in the back of your mind, your teacher shops for groceries. However, seeing her out of her element and out of your familiar frame of reference would throw things out of kilter until your brain was able to process it.
If you’ve been to a high school or college football game lately, you might have had a similar reaction when the marching band began playing a song that was almost recognizable.
The song does not remain the same
Maybe the song was vaguely familiar, but you couldn’t immediately identify it out of its element and away from the comfort zone of your radio. It was jarring at first, but once you relaxed and your brain shuffled the song into its rightful place, you probably felt a little nostalgic at first and even appreciated the tune a little more as you listened to it in its alien incarnation.
Here are eleven classic rock songs you might encounter in the little known, underappreciated fringe genre of “marching band” along with the song in its original form for comparison. Take a listen and maybe next time the marching band begins to play, you will be more prepared for the musical juxtaposition.
- Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne
Click here to listen to “Crazy Train” performed by the Graham Kapowsin High School marching band.
- Joy to the World – Three Dog Night
Click here to listen to “Joy to the World” performed by the Peninsula High School marching band.
- Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple
Click here to listen to “Smoke on the Water” performed by the Tenino High School marching band.
- Paradise City – Guns N’ Roses
Click here to listen to “Paradise City” performed by the Edison High School Wildcat marching band.
- Pinball Wizard – The Who
Click here to listen to “Pinball Wizard” performed by an unidentified marching band.
- Heartbreaker – Pat Benatar
Click here to listen to “Heartbreaker” performed by an unidentified marching band.
- Radar Love – Golden Earring
Click here to listen to “Radar Love” performed by the Baltimore Ravens marching band.
- You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
Click here to listen to “You Shook Me All Night Long” performed by the Michigan marching band.
- In the Flesh – Pink Floyd
Click here to listen to “In the Flesh” performed by an unidentified marching band.
- 25 or 6 to 4 – Chicago
Click here to listen to “25 or 6 to 4” performed by the Granville, Ohio High School marching band.
- Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
Click here to listen to “Stairway to Heaven” performed by the Hampshire Youth Band.
Don’t let anyone tell you classic rock songs aren’t hip enough for the younger generations.
Grab your teenagers and take them to a high school or college football game. Watch the game but listen to the music. It might be one of the few times you share a musical bond with your teenagers. Just don’t tell them if you want it to last.
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