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The concept of "Land Of The Free" is getting more absurd all the time.
I'm not taking political sides or mocking my soon-to-be former Homeland, but it's tough imagining anyone who can't find a way that statement applies in these days of $4 gas, government eavesdropping and no-limit campaigning.
So once again it's time for a hearty platter of free music collections, especially since the plate from the grill this Fourth may be rather meager (maybe it's a Vast Hot Wing Conspiracy to cure our nation's obesity problem).
Set aside the massive sentimental value and "The Star Spangled Banner" is a less than impressive tune (set to the tune of a British drinking song and difficult to sing). Luckily, the full-length Jimi Hendrix masterpiece from Woodstock can be found at www.downloads.nl/results/mp3/1/Jimi+Hendrix+Star+Spangled+Banner. Those demanding tradition can find it and about 20 other patriotic songs at www.af.mil/library/band/patriotic.asp, but at least have some fun: it takes 43.4 seconds to sing as composed, according to columnist Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated, while his daughter can do it clearly in 22 seconds and Beyonce dragged it out to 2 minutes, 9.7 seconds at the 2004 Super Bowl. Try besting those marks.
Old Faithful to a music Nethead is the Internet Archive and once again there's riches to be found by typing "Fourth Of July" into the search bar at www.archive.org/details/audio. Audio selections amid a bunch of speeches and poetry include reggae, fractal experimental, alternative protest, multi-group live jams and an Independence Day comedy performance from 1911.
Hopefully they're aiming for more than one day a year of good sales, but there's a folk-punk band called Fourth Of July with a bunch of free songs at several sites; www.lawrence.com/bands/fourth_of_july and www.hearya.com/2008/04/02/hearya-session-14-fourth-of-july are a couple. Angry lyrics, but quality instrumentation improves the mood, according to reviews from the band's hometown of Lawrence, Kansas.
A bluegrass group called Bearfoot is performing in Juneau this Friday, but since their Web site offers only brief MP3 snippets I did a little surfing and for some reason ended up with freebies by indie group Port O'Brien at indiemuse.com/2008/06/14/port-obrien. It's one of 179 entries at the main site that offers MP3 downloads.
Trying to find some free Alaskan bluegrass again led to something far from intended, but interesting: an indigenous Greenlandic album at fevrialem.blogspot.com/2008/05/tracklist-3-13-05-2008-alaska-sibirya.html. It's posted through Rapidshare, which means enduring a two-minute wait and security password check.
Finally, in the just-discovered-Facebook type of stupidity that plagues unhip elders, if you're just getting the featured free download from iTunes, it's time to check out their free music podcasts. I've been downloading news-oriented ones for years and knew of a few mostly mediocre music 'casts, but didn't realize how extensive better ones are. Blame it on Apple's lousy search system. What finally worked for me was chasing a sequence of "related" links after discovering one related to a purchase (a new live-in-Japan mini-album by jazz guitarist Pat Metheny). I'm happy letting the tyranny of the majority masses scoff at my ignorance if it allows even a tiny minority just a bit more freedom.
Mark Sabbatini is a professional transient planning to move this fall to the polar town of Longyearbyen, Norway. He is promising not to sing the national anthem of his new Homeland on the Fourth ofJuly.