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Phillies playoff anthem "Dancing on My Own" gets another revamp, from The Philadelphia Orchestra

courtesy of The Philadelphia Orchestra

As the Phillies head into the World Series, one song has been inescapable in their city: "Dancing on My Own," the dance-pop lament that became a perfectly unlikely postseason anthem. Maybe you heard the tune in euphoric footage from the Phillies clubhouse, or during last weekend's celebration on Broad Street. As of this morning, you can see it played in slightly more formal circumstances, by The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Filmed at the Orchestra's home in Verizon Hall, the clip features just the chorus of the song, with sing-along closed captioning. The members of the orchestra are dressed casually, many in Phillies apparel. Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who brings his usual whole-body investment to the task, dons a throwback Mike Schmidt jersey. (Schmidt, who played his entire career for the Phillies, led the league in home runs in 1975, the year Nézet-Séguin was born.) "Let's go, Phillies!" everyone shouts at the close.

By now, it's no secret how "Dancing on My Own" shimmied its way into the hearts of Philly sports fans. This recent piece in the Inquirer, by Matt Mullin, goes into deep detail. For those who need the short version, it was left fielder Kyle Schwarber who brought the song to the Phillies clubhouse — a tradition he carried over from his time with the Boston Red Sox. The version on the team's playlist is a Tiësto remix of Calum Scott's 2016 cover of the song — so, twice removed from the original version, by Robyn.

That original version, from Robyn's 2010 album Body Talk Pt. 1, carries its own lore — as a gay anthem, and a hinge toward communion, and one of the Top 20 songs of all time (at least according to Rolling Stone, which put it one slot above Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit"). Some Robyn fans have made a point of agitating for the original over Scott and Tiësto's versions, but one imagines she isn't too upset. (A headline from the Inquirer a few days ago: "Take heart, Robyn fans. The Swedish popstar is still getting paid for the ‘Dancing On My Own’ remix.")

The Philadelphia Orchestra isn't the only local institution to give the song a fresh interpretation this week: SNACKTIME, the Philly brass band, shared its own take with our friends at WXPN on Wednesday, for Public Radio Music Day.

Like SNACKTIME, the Orchestra takes its arranging cues from Robyn's original rather than the cover or the remix. (Go right ahead and call it a "classical" approach.) What's true in each case is that the song holds all kinds of emotional resonance — a truth that Sam Sanders explored when he chose the song for NPR's "American Anthem" series in 2019.

That piece includes a quote from Nora McInerny, host of Terrible, Thanks For Asking. It's worth revisiting as the Phillies embark on their historic World Series run. "What's true of most human experiences is that you're going to have more than one emotion at a time," McInerny says. "It's very rare to have all of that in a song."

Nate Chinen has been writing about music for more than 25 years. He spent a dozen of them working as a critic for The New York Times, and helmed a long-running column for JazzTimes. As Editorial Director at WRTI, he oversees a range of classical and jazz coverage, and contributes regularly to NPR.