Thursday, April 16, 2015

38: Semper Fidelis - Sousa

The reason for the inclusion of Semper Fidelis has nothing to do with the US Marines. And not just because I have no connections with the US Marines.

It's Plymouth Argyle, of course. (And that's a low-to-middle ranking professional soccer club in the UK, for those who were thinking it has something to do with diamond patterns on socks.) I'm told that back in the day (and the day may be the 1950s or 1960s depending on the authority you speak to), there was always a military marching band who would play prior to every Argyle home game, presumably linked to Plymouth's Royal Navy heritage. And the last tune they would play, just before the teams came on to the pitch, would be Semper Fidelis.

By the time I came on the scene, following the 1984 FA Cup run and Dave Smith's magnificent promotion team of the mid-80s, the marching band was long-gone but Semper was still played over the PA system as the players ran on to the pitch and the team line-ups announced, and still is to this day. As well as being a strong piece of music in itself - and it is, without question, one of Sousa's finest pieces, and yes it's better than Liberty Bell - it's one of those tunes that has, without much exception, always been able to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. And I still can't hear that middle, slightly quiter, section without also hearing in my mind the Janner tones of Des Robinson saying: "Number seven, Kevin Hodges. Number eight, Kevin Summerfield. Number nine, and captain, Tommy TYNAN!"

There's not much more to say than that, is there? Simper Fidelis, coming in at number thrity-eight.

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