Boston Pops Fourth – RIP

If this is the final Fourth on the Esplanade, it is a homicide. Pure and simple, it was killed by CBS.

David Mugar has given the keys to the kingdom to CBS, a national broadcast in exchange for letting CBS dictate the show. As I write this, the Boston Pops are performing the 1812 Overture at 8:45 p.m., long before the fireworks.

I guess the national audience (or at least CBS) doesn’t want the 1812 Overture to pollute the national airwaves. So now we have the cannons leading into two hours of nationally staged garbage.

Can someone explain to me what Little Big Town, Demi Lovato, and Nick Jonas have to do with Boston? How do they fit into a little gathering of patriotic songs, the 1812 Overture, cannons, and the fireworks?

If someone wants to broadcast our happy little Boston party, as is, great. It was a wonderful little event of songs, the Overture, cannons, and some fireworks. Live stream it. Bring in C-Span. Just don’t mess with it. Let it be the simple little Boston celebration that it was from the beginning.

Until CBS releases its claws from the neck of of our happy, funky little local event, let the Boston Pops Fourth of July event rest in peace, where the sweet memories of the original event aren’t polluted by the destruction brought forth by CBS.

Simply stated, I would rather have nothing than the travesty that is the CBS national broadcast.


20 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I wouldn't write the obituary yet...

    …but I do agree with many of your points, especially about 1812. That should be the grand finale with the fireworks that go with it seamlessly seguing into the big display. Why shouldn’t the national audience see the highlight of the show?

  2. If the 4th on the Esplanade

    went back to being a regular Boston Pops concert, ending with the 1812 Overture, followed by a much more modest fireworks display than the endless extravagance of recent years … well, that would be fine with me. If some TV network wants to pick it up, great … and if not, that’s OK too.

  3. wondering when this would show up

    This is basically a yearly post, up there with bemoaning the St. Patrick’s breakfast. I’m no fan of Lovato, but come on people…

    sabutai   @   Mon 4 Jul 10:13 PM
  4. I had thought that no sponsors are coming forward ...

    so does a different meaning to the RIP in the post’s title? Is it done?

  5. Meh

    I enjoyed the show a few years in the 1970s. I was much younger then, and the event was far more genuine. As noted above, it was a nice outdoor concert (a bit on the cheesy side, but so what) followed by a nice fireworks display. I stood on the bank of the Esplanade and looked across the river at the “Orion Instruments” sign that in those days was the hallmark of Kendall Square.

    By the early 1990s, I had had enough. The crowd, in the same place, was shoulder-to-shoulder. My second wife and I were there with a two year old in a stroller. It was impossible to move anywhere, never mind quickly. Various elements of the crowd (mostly of the red-cup-and-baseball-hat brigade) decided that shooting bottle-rockets into the crowd was fun. Fortunately, none came near us. Still, we did not go back.

    The final straw came when, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the event was accompanied by a sizable contingent of heavily-armed soldiers in full regalia, providing “security” by walking around with machine guns and assault rifles.

    Whatever this event was at the beginning, it has become a garish spectacle that holds no appeal to me whatsoever.

    My reaction is, frankly, “good riddance”. Perhaps a rebirth will be in order in a few years — with an explicit focus on restoring the scale and simplicity of those early years.

    • I went to school down the street ...

      red solo cups, yes, rowdy behavior, didn’t recall that as an issue where I was, again this was years ago, late 80′s early 90′s. But haven’t been in years, it got too big, then moved out of the area. Hopefully it doesn’t go away.

  6. I want national acts

    We gather something like 350,000 people out there every year. Who’s supposed to play, the Fat City Band? Steven Tyler?

    • Hey ... the Fat City Band is great!

      I’ll take FCB and their blues over most of the “national acts” I know about. I’m definitely an outlier about such matters of taste, though.

      For that matter, I prefer FCB to the Boston Pops. I can’t help myself, I just like the blues.

    • Who's supposed to play?

      Who’s supposed to play? The Boston Pops, of course.

      Here are the basics. You put the Pops on the Esplanade, get a couple of cannons, add some fireworks, and there you have the essence of what this should be about.

      Want to add a singer? Fine. That could be fun. Make sure the singer is aligned to the kind of music the Pops plays. If you need an MC, make sure it is someone who is local with the skill to pull this thing off.

      These are the essential elements.
      1. Boston.
      2. Pops.
      3. 1812 Overture.
      4. Cannons.
      5. Fireworks.

      Anything that doesn’t fit these five categories, save it for another event. Want a country music show on the Esplanade? Fine. Just don’t try to conduct a hostile takeover of the Boston Pops event.

      • And if there is a "national act"...

        …let it be someone with Massachusetts roots. Also, I personally prefer my Fourth concerts to be almost entirely patriotic tunes.

        • Why?

          I mean, if we want to keep Boston a small city (another Nice or Dortmund), yes. From many conversations, I think people here do. If we want to substantiate the claim that Boston is a world-level city, we need to drop the hick-town parochialism. I don’t think NYC makes such demands of such performers.

          I will say that I am increasingly displeased with the national tendency to treat the music as filler before the fireworks.

          sabutai   @   Tue 5 Jul 5:52 PM
      • Yeah

        Who the hell let country music into this celebration of our country?

        You guys might feel more strongly about this than I do. But it’s a big event, and we’re the birthplace of liberty — it deserves national attention, and national acts.

      • Wrongo

        The fact you didn’t list Stars and Stripes Forever as its own bullet renders all your commentary invalid :)

        sabutai   @   Tue 5 Jul 5:52 PM
  7. One of the best events in the country

    I like the crowd, always diverse with good representation from out of state. I like trying to get to the middle smoot line on the MIT/Harvard bridge. It’s been a few years since I’ve gone, but it’s one of the few things my wife enjoyed about Boston. It soundly beats the fireworks in DC and Chicago.

    Salems looked impressive on Facebook, I was partying in a friends backyard on the southwest side of Chicago, where all through the night a continuous display of homemade fireworks was a real treat. That largely Mexican and Polish immigrant neighborhood showed more patriotism than the white suburbs we drove home through.


      The Mass Ave bridge is now closed for the 4th as hey send up fountains and fireworks from there as well as from the barge which is now close to the bridge.
      Wonderful fireworks display this year. There are really two components to the 4th – the concert and the fireworks. The fireworks are enjoyed by many more then those who go to the concert as the Charles is lined on both sides for the fireworks. For those of us on the Cambridge side – many used to bring radios to listen to the concert but now with the two hours of “country” and “pop” music after the 1812 Overture – most do not bother but just have fun with friends util the fireworks go off.

      You do not need the “add-on” generally not great music, just like you do not need bars open to the wee hours of the morning to be a world class city!!

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