Hokey? You bet — But you can’t beat Lockhart & Co.
By Jed Gottlieb
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
The Boston Pops is the soundtrack to Independence Day.
I know, I know, that’s a seriously hokey sentiment. But it’s true. Without Keith Lockhart and America’s greatest pops orchestra, the Esplanade scene is just a big picnic with great fireworks.
An estimated 800,000 will pack the banks of the Charles for the annual celebration and millions more will tune into CBS (WBZ-TV Channel 4) — the Pops concert begins at 8:20 p.m. with the national anthem and the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard flyover; the CBS national broadcast kicks off at 10 p.m.; fireworks start at 10:35 p.m.
These masses will brave traffic, crowds and threatening thunderstorms (which are supposed to hold off) just to be there with the band.
Because the Pops offer an authentic experience that’s hard to find in our digital age.
There are few moments in our modern world not completely given over to simple, speedy pop culture. New Year’s Eve telecasts are a parade of reality stars. Christmas carols are remade endlessly by pop artists desperate for one more hit. But Boston’s July Fourth party is different — even if the Dropkick Murphys are making an appearance.
Jennifer Hudson will headline, Massachusetts native Michael Chiklis will host and the Dropkicks will do a song at the city’s 39th annual Independence Day celebration. But nobody goes to see the celebrity guests. What people want is the old-fashioned fanfare of an orchestra full of strings, brass and kettle drums.
If this were any other holiday, CBS and the city would sell the naming rights of the show to Budweiser and bring in Justin Bieber to host. Instead, the people get what they want, and maybe what they need.
They get the Pops — a flesh and blood band — doing patriotic standards written by master composers. The Pops is hokey, old-timey, out-of-step with much of today’s culture, and totally indispensable.