As a native Kentuckian, it is a proud moment whenever I hear the song My Old Kentucky Home. Whether played after University of Kentucky Wildcat basketball games or prior to the Kentucky Derby or elsewhere, it is a time to sing and be proud of my heritage.
You can imagine my surprise when the choir chosen to sing the song at yesterday’s Derby sang ”the old Kentucky home” rather than the more common “my old Kentucky home” several times. At first I thought there must be something politically incorrect about the word “my” that nobody had told me about. After further research, I discovered that the original lyrics do actually have a mixture of “my” and “the” throughout the song, so perhaps the choir sang it as originally written for those phrases.
I realize that public sentiment won’t allow the original words elsewhere in the song – “the darkies are gay” – to be sung anymore. I have no problem with that 1986 legislative change in order to continue as the official Kentucky state song. We likely ought to change the word “gay” since nobody uses it anymore apart from a sexual orientation connotation. There is a difference in changing words because their meaning in the culture has changed versus changing them just to be politically correct.
Before Mary J. Blige sang the national anthem at the Derby yesterday, my parents were speculating how much she might change it from the original as most singers disrespectfully and ignorantly do these days, mistakenly thinking the moment is about showing off their musical runs rather than giving tribute to the country.
So to singers asked to sing important historical songs before large crowds of people, here is my plea.. Sing them as they were written. Focus on the beauty and heritage that is infinitely more important than you apparently think you are. You have no right to change The Star Spangled Banner or My Old Kentucky Home or a host of others. The moment isn’t about you, your talent or political statements. I don’t give a rat’s ass about any of those. Political correctness is for spineless wussies.
Leap year lesson #122 is Sing important historical songs as they were written. Period.