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Origins: Hail to the Chief (and parodies)

An Buachaill Caol Dubh 29 Apr 09 - 11:06 AM
GUEST,Marcellus 04 Jun 15 - 12:55 PM
GUEST,guest Larry Poole 11 Feb 17 - 12:28 AM
Joe Offer 23 Jan 18 - 05:37 PM
Joe Offer 23 Jan 18 - 06:53 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: 'Hail to the Chief' (parodies)
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 29 Apr 09 - 11:06 AM

In reading the recent thread about humorous and scurrilous versions of "Blaze Away", I was reminded of a film/movie I saw years ago, in which (for reasons I can't recall) TWO ex-Presidents of the USA had to go on the run from their own Secret Service. Anyway, at one point in this unlikely "Buddy Movie", the two of them - thinking of how often they've heard this particular march tune - compare the sets of words they made up to alleviate the boredom. All that I can recall are the following fragments:

"Hail to the Chief; if you don't, I'll have to kill you:
I am the Chief, so you'd better watch your back {you bastard),


"Hail to the Chief, he's the Chief and he needs hailing...

..That's why we hail the chief like hell, 'Hail the Chief'"

I wonder can anyone remember more than this (or would be prepared to admit it)?

I think that the movie is called "My Fellow Americans"

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Hail to the Chief (parodies)
From: GUEST,Marcellus
Date: 04 Jun 15 - 12:55 PM

As I recall, that's the only parts of the song for which the two ex-presidents (in the movie) made up words. Two lines apiece. I don't think there were any other words.   Yes, the movie was "My Fellow Americans" starring Jack Lemon and James Garner as two former U.S. Presitents.

Many people are surprised to learn that there are actually official words to "Hail to the Chief" but they are rarely heard as instrumental versions are usually played with the President appears.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Hail to the Chief (parodies)
From: GUEST,guest Larry Poole
Date: 11 Feb 17 - 12:28 AM

Hail to the thief, who stole the last election
All salute the conman by lying through your teeth
Hail to the thief who is selling off the government
Honor the business of twittering deceit

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Subject: RE: Origins: Hail to the Chief (and parodies)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Jan 18 - 05:37 PM

An interesting article from Smithsonian Magazine from January-February 2017:

Hail to the Chieftain

Why Do We Play ?Hail to the Chief? for the President?
A Scottish rebel features prominently in the anthem

By Abigail Tucker

Amid drummed ruffles and bugled flourishes, “Hail to the Chief” will be played twice in ear-ringing succession at this January’s inauguration, once for outgoing President Barack Obama and then again for incoming President Donald Trump.

But there’s another chief in the mix whenever this song is played, and the peaceful transfer of power is the farthest thing from his mind. His name is Roderick Dhu, or Black Roderick, and he’s a bloody-minded medieval Scottish outlaw, albeit a fictional one. He hails from Sir Walter Scott’s “The Lady of the Lake,” an 1810 narrative poem, later a hit play, set in the 16th-century highlands. In one early scene, Roderick’s pike-wielding, tartan-clad clansmen serenade him with a lusty “Boat Song,” the source of our national tribute: “Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances! / Honored and blessed be the ever-green Pine!”

It’s difficult to overstate the influence of The Lady of the Lake on our impressionable young country. The 1812 Philadelphia debut was a theatrical smash, the Hamilton of its day, staged dozens of times in major American cities with spectacular costumes and elaborate sets. The score was published and fed the craze for parlor music. “These songs were simply in the air,” says Ann Rigney, author of The Afterlives of Walter Scott. The hero of The Lady of the Lake is a nobleman named James Douglas, but American audiences loved the glamorous bandit who ruled by blood right and instinct, says Ian Duncan, an English professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Locomotives, mines and even babies were named after Roderick Dhu.

No doubt the War of 1812, America’s rematch with England, made the play’s politics especially resonant. “Roderick Dhu is this Scottish chieftain who hates England,” explains Joseph Rezek, a scholar of British and American Romanticism at Boston University. Commanding his people against Scotland’s King James V, who was half English, Roderick was ruffian and ruler both, not unlike some of the first American presidents.

Even though Americans celebrated outlaws and rebels, we also indulged a contradictory desire for the pomp and circumstance of authority. Perhaps this was why we needed national songs in the first place. (It’s no coincidence that “The Star-Spangled Banner” is also a relic of the War of 1812.) For a personal theme song, George Washington had experimented with “Hail, Columbia,” which critics may have found a little too laudatory. (“Let Washington’s great name / ring through the world with loud applause.”) Jefferson tried “Jefferson and Liberty.” (“To tyrants never bend the knee / But join with heart, and soul, and voice, / For Jefferson and Liberty!”) Neither stuck, thank goodness.

“Hail to the Chief” was selected in a more haphazard, or democratic, fashion. It was first played to honor an American president as early as 1815, when a Boston celebration marking the end of the War of 1812 fell on Washington’s birthday. But it really took off in 1829, when the Marine Band performed the march as Andrew Jackson was leaving a Georgetown ceremony for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and provoked three cheers from the crowd. President John Tyler formally picked it as the official anthem for the office in the 1840s.

But because the bloody sprees of a highland fugitive—however poetic—were not really a proper tribute for a U.S. president, the lyrics would be rewritten several times. In one early version called “Wreathes for the Chieftain,” a peaceful olive tree supplanted Roderick’s mighty Scottish pine. A painfully bland mid-20th-century version called to “make this grand country grander.” Today the lyrics are all but forgotten, but the Department of Defense keeps close tabs on the melody, dictating the Marine Band play it in B-flat major and only for sitting presidents in stately contexts and at presidential funerals. Still, it seems this bandit’s tune has proved an apt anthem for a country that so loves its rebel roots.

This article is a selection from the January/February issue of Smithsonian magazine

A frequent contributor to Smithsonian, Abigail Tucker is the author of The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World. More information is available at her website:

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Subject: RE: Origins: Hail to the Chief (and parodies)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Jan 18 - 06:53 PM

There's a rather juicy article about "Hail to the Chief" and Trump at

The History Of 'Hail To The Chief' ? A Song Trump Has Not Yet Embraced One perk of the presidency is that it comes with its own anthem. But when it comes to playing "Hail to the Chief," historians might say that Donald Trump is no James K. Polk.

Outside of show business, the presidency is one of the few jobs that comes with its own song.

In a tradition dating back to the 1800s, when the commander in chief enters the room, the U.S. Marine Band strikes up "Hail to the Chief."

It starts with the so-called "Ruffles and Flourishes" ? four of them in succession. Then the song itself. A slow, melodic, instantly recognizable march ? entrance music for the leader of the free world.

The first time presidents hear "Hail to the Chief" played for them is right after taking the oath of office. There are no firm rules for when ? or how often ? to use the song.

In these early days of the Trump administration (,i>written in March, 2017), we haven't heard it much. He used it during a visit to a Boeing plant in South Carolina, but President Trump is just as likely to opt for the music featured at his campaign rallies, including the ultra-patriotic country ballad "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood. That's what he used recently at the big Conservative Political Action Conference. It's less stately, but a crowd-pleaser ? and easier to sing along to.

The real tradition of "Hail to the Chief" goes back to President James K. Polk, elected in 1844. It grew out of the practical, political instincts of first lady Sarah Childress Polk.

"Polk was not an over-the-top character; he wasn't larger than life," according to Thomas Price, curator of the James K. Polk Home and Museum in Columbia, Tenn. "Sarah Polk mentioned that on occasion he would enter crowded rooms unnoticed."

Polk was not a dashing military figure like some of his predecessors. He wasn't good at oratory or comfortable socializing. Price says the first lady recognized all of that as a potential problem for her husband.

But, with a keen sense of how Washington worked, she had an idea.

"Wanting to bring some fanfare to the presidency, she had 'The President's Own' Marine Band play the song 'Hail to the Chief,' " curator Price says, so that people would know the president had arrived.

From there it went on to become the president's official anthem.

Before Polk, the song ? adapted in (or around) 1812 from an old Scottish tune, by orchestral conductor James Sanderson ? had been played for earlier presidents, but not routinely.

Still, the song's use is subject to the wishes of any occupant of the White House. Some have despised it. President Chester Arthur even launched what today might be called a "Repeal and Replace" campaign against the song. He stopped using it, enlisting none other than John Philip Sousa to compose a new presidential theme song. The fact that you've probably never heard (or heard of) Sousa's "Presidential Polonaise" tells you how successful that effort was.

Now it's Trump's turn to decide how prominent "Hail to the Chief" is on his presidential playlist.

And, in case you were wondering ? or hoping to sing along yourself ? the song does have rarely heard lyrics, written sometime in the 1900s by Albert Gamse:

Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation,

Hail to the Chief! We salute him, one and all.

Hail to the Chief, as we pledge cooperation

In proud fulfillment of a great, noble call.

Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander,

This you will do, that's our strong, firm belief.

Hail to the one we selected as commander,

Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief!

Here's a link to the Wikipedia Article (click) on the song.

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