Does Boston Need an Anthem?

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By: Janelle Nanos

Is there something missing about your life in Boston that you just can’t put your finger on? Well, two Berklee College of Music students may have identified what’s causing that caustic hole in your soul: The City of Boston needs an anthem.

Wait, wait, you’re thinking. Boston has songs. We sing “Sweet Caroline” at Red Sox games. But that’s not exactly about Boston (and if you believe Will Ferrell’s portrayal of Neil Diamond on VH1’s Storytellers, it’s not exactly about Caroline either). What about “Dirty Water”? It celebrates the “lovers, muggers, and thieves” that hang out on the banks of the polluted Charles. Not exactly what you’d put in a tourism brochure. And, sure, there’s that sobby Augustana ditty, or that rough and tumble number from the The Dropkick Murphys. But let’s be honest: sobby and angry and dirty do not an anthem make.

Other cities have anthems. Hell, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett are perhaps best known for singing love songs to certain other cities. (Sinatra’s songs have also inspired hate in other cities, but that’s neither here nor there). An anthem is a pop masterpiece that creates a stirring deep in your heartstrings, one that has recognizable lyrics that you belt out by your bedroom mirror. Or at least that’s the argument of Vincent Keith and Eytan Nicholson, who are on a mission to write and distribute “So Good,” an anthem for the Hub.

So exactly how do you go about creating an iconic song for a city? First, build a page on Kickstarter to help raise funds for your cause. Then, consult with your music professors and the people of Boston to identify a Pandora-worthy musical genome for the city:

We spent the next 6 months researching what this city identifies with musically. We interviewed dozens of Bostonians and faculty at Berklee, researched Boston’s musical history, and tested out different songs in our weekly live shows to see which bands, styles, tempos, instrumentations, lyrics, and even keys the Bostonians liked the best.

Once we were satisfied that we understood the city’s taste in music, we began writing a song to fuse the old traditions and classic Boston sound with the new and emerging sounds of the current music industry. Neil Diamond + Journey +The Black Eyed Peas + The Fray + a few secret ingredients = the new Boston sound.

Testing the theory, we put the above bands (minus the secret ingredient) into Pandora to create what we thought would be the ultimate Boston playlist. At first, it was promising: A little Elton John, a little Creedence Clearwater Revival and then… a techno cover of Dirty Dancing’s “The Time of My Life” by the Black Eyed Peas. And then more Fergie. This was disconcerting. But then: Katy Perry, followed by Jimmy Buffet, and Neil Himself. (One wonders if it was Boston’s affection for “Sweet Caroline” that caused the pair to dub their song “So Good” in the first place.)

Keith and Nicholson are hoping to raise $5,000 to produce and distribute 10,000 CDs of “So Good” throughout the city, and were recently given support by Harvard’s Recording Artists Project. So far, they’ve raised over $4,400 to help their cause, and their fundraising drive ends this Friday (according to Kickstarter’s parameters, they must get pledges for the full amount before any funds are awarded). So would you pony up cash to help support two music students looking to write a Boston anthem? And does Boston need an anthem in the first place? Stay tuned to their website and Kickstarter page to find out if they get the funds they need.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2011/04/07/does-boston-need-an-anthem/