Stuck On The Connector: The Star-Spangled Banner

I am not the most jingoistic person to whom you will speak. I do enjoy the benefits of living in the United States — I vote regularly, I pay taxes (boy, do I pay taxes!) — but it’s not like I love all things American. I drive a Honda (perhaps assembled somewhere in the US of A), before that I drove a Nissan, before that I drove a Hyundai (I was poor and in college), but before that I drove a Ford (1968 Mustang)!

There is but one National Anthem for the United States, “The Star-Spangled Banner”

O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

(lyrics shamefully lifted from Wikipedia)

As songs go I give the National Anthem of the United States a “B” — it’s catchy, but really hard to dance to.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” is a tough song to sing, some of its words are from an (American) English language rarely used today (o’er, anyone?) and its vocal range is tough for many of us who attempt to sing it loudly. However, I believe that it should be sung in the way I was taught, the way that I’ve attempted to sing it before every sporting event I’ve attended during my life.

In recent years it has become fashionable to personalize the National Anthem — drag out sections too long, traverse the musical scales during one portion to prove that you can indeed sing, or out and out butcher the song as some personal assault against the listeners’ ears.

Last Monday it was quite in vogue to lambaste Christina Aguilera for screwing up the singing of “The Star-Spangled” prior to the Super Bowl (it’s all over YouTube if you are one of the rare people who missed this story). I am not a Christina Aguilera fan, but this rant is not against her, it’s against “Joe Six-Pack.”

Joe Six-Pack is your typical American who loves his (or her) country. However, during the last fifteen or so years I’ve been hearing the collective Joe Six-Packs do something which irritates me — they scream out to emphasize the parts of the National Anthem which they feel help prove their loyalty to Country, or more importantly, Team. I first encountered this behavior at an Atlanta Knights hockey game when fans of the team would scream “NIGHT” to show everyone that they:

  • a) knew at least some of the lyrics to our National Anthem
  • b) were sober enough to remember that they were attending an Atlanta Knights game

The Saturday night prior to the Super Bowl I attended an Atlanta Thrashers v. Carolina Hurricanes hockey game in Raleigh, North Carolina. As with every American sporting event the crowd was asked to rise, remove their caps, for the National Anthem. Some extremely talented young lady walked out onto the ice and performed a wonderful rendition of the National Anthem. The crowd, managed to ruin it for me. In addition to “NIGHT” (I’m assuming this was from the Thrashers fans who made the trip to Raleigh) the crowd also manage to scream the “YOU SEE” lyrics (I’ll make a wild-ass guess that this is some sort of University of North Carolina, which resides in neighboring Chapel Hill, reference) and the “RED” lyric (I’ll make a wild-ass guess that this is some sort of reference to North Carolina State, whose school color is red and which resides in Raleigh, in rebuttal to “YOU SEE”). Unfortunately for the Duke University contingency there is no reference to “blue” embedded in “The Star-Spangled Banner” lyrics so they are left to their own devices to prove their loyalty to Country and School.

Stop it, people!
Stop it!

Lighten up Francis, it’s just a song…

Perhaps you are right. However, for me it’s a very important song. Perhaps I’ll belt out a few lines the next time I stand in line so that I can go through a metal detector, after emptying all items from my pockets and placing them into a plastic bowl, just for the pleasure of attending an NHL hockey game.

Paulie [eatl/ga]

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4 Responses to Stuck On The Connector: The Star-Spangled Banner

  1. Vic says:

    Agreed. I’ve always said “It’s called a melody. Look into it.” I hate when “singers” decide that they need to dance all around the melody instead of just singing it.

  2. Denis says:

    Sorry, but this is what happens when you play the national anthem at all sorts of events from little league baseball games to national state occasions. It cheapens the solemnity of the anthem. Also it makes the National Anthem into some sort of secular religious test where you have to sing the song to prove your allegiance to the country. It is just a bunch of crock. Our patriotism should be demonstrated by positive action not empty theater.

  3. Pingback: Inside The Perimeter » I’m Wearing Red In Defiance

  4. Vic says:

    “Our patriotism should be demonstrated by positive action not empty theater.”

    I like that!

    And what’s up with adding God Bless America into the mix?

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