Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Voice of God

When they heard the sound of drums, they dropped their toys and hurried to the TV. My twins were then only 18-months old, yet the opening theme to the 1992 Summer Olympics lured them, as if hypnotized, to the source of the music.

For years, John Facenda, the voice of NFL Films during the Sixties and Seventies, had a similar luring, hypnotic quality. His deep baritone would stop listeners in their tracks and turn their attention to NFL highlights accompanied by his voice-over.

Facenda, who died of cancer in 1984, was affectionately known as “The Voice of God.” One of my most vivid memories of his work involved Rudyard Kipling’s poem If, which he recited to highlights of the NFL season. Recordings of Facenda’s recital are available on-line, and provide a vivid reminder of what made him special.


Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

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