Sunday, September 20, 2009

Robert W. Service and the Oakland Raiders

Canadian vagabond and poet Robert W. Service wrote popular narrative verse, the most famous of which may be "The Cremation of Sam McGhee." His work is not terribly welcome in academic circles, but I don't imagine the spirit of Service, wherever it is, cares much. His collected poems from G.P. Putnam still sell well; in fact, I just bought a copy. Service's is a special talent, involving a genius for rousing rhythm, song-like rhyme, and narrative drive. Service was an entertainer and a teller of tales: nothing to sneeze at.

If you happen to be an Oakland Raider [American football]fan, you will likely be suffering from depression (the team has been on the skids), but you will likely also be aware of a Service-like poem written by Steve Sabol, a producer of films and video concerning football, and narrated by the deep-voiced announcer John Facenda.

I'm a life-long Raiders fan--but by accident. Because I grew up in a canyon of the High Sierra in pre-cable-TV days, our household's TV received the signal of only one channel well. The channel happened to be an NBC affiliate, and NBC broadcast games of the fledgling American Football League, of which the Raiders were a member. So I started watching the Raiders and getting intrigued by how quirky they were, and how obsessively single-minded their owner, Al Davis, was.

At any rate, the style of Robert W. Service meets the substance, such as it is, of Steve Sabol's poem in this video from Youtube (oh, and incidentally, the Raiders somehow found a way to win today)
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