American Marching Band Empties Collective Spit Valve Over Vestiges of Youth

by Peter Tyrrell Tuesday, May 24, 2005 3:23 PM

In Canada, we celebrate Victoria Day every year on the Monday preceding May 25th, in memory of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). I'm not sure why. In Victoria, where I live, the conjunction of the Day with the eponymous City means we must have a parade. We have had for 107 years. "Every minute of this 2-1/2 hr parade will leave you entertained" touts our official tourism website. Well, whatever. Somehow I end up watching every year anyway.

A lot of American high school marching bands show up for the event, and they're mostly really good, for high school students trapped in polyester. Part of the fun (every minute, folks, EVERY MINUTE) is to try and guess what the hell tune they're playing. Sometimes it's obvious ("Louie, Louie"), sometimes it's more challenging, as you strain your "top of the pops" trivia skills to the limit. One in particular had me stumped. The tune was tantalizingly familiar - I could even hum along - but I couldn't for the life of me name what it was. My sister didn't know. My wife hadn't a clue. I was like, I KNOW THIS, but I couldn't identify it. Until suddenly, as the last rank of tubas was passing, I had it: Ozzy Osbourne, "Crazy Train".

Ozzy Osbourne? OZZY? OSBOURNE!? Now, I love Ozzy, but for me, that song is a symbol of my long-hair headbanging days. You know, rebellious youth and loud, possibly Satanic music. And here they are, these kids, turning my rebel anthem into an easy-listenin' family-parade-day brass-n'-woodwinds favourite. I hated every one of 'em. Then I remembered who was wearing the burgundy and gold, one-size-fits-none bibbers and jacket with matching spats for a two mile stretch on a public street in front of 90,000 spectators. And felt a lot better.

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