Sunday, November 17, 2013

The National Anthem

Our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. I'll start out by saying that I don't particularly think this is the best song to be our national anthem. Personally I'd like to see Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" be the national anthem - the song's story is still relevant, it completely secular and most importantly it's singable.

But today I came across a post on Facebook about the way the Star Spangled Banner "should" be sung. The post indicated it should be like this

And that is question.

But see, here's the thing. According to The Smithsonian, "...there is no single official version of the anthem designated for civilian use." So, technically - barring messing up the actual lyrics - there is no "wrong" way to perform the anthem because there is no official "right" way. Of course, we've all seen horrid renditions of the anthem, especially at sporting events, but even though they're bad, I guess they're not wrong.

For me and many in my generation Whitney Houston's 1991 Super Bowl performance is the definitive interpretation.

Despite great controversy, for prior generations Jimi Hendrix's performance of the national anthem at Woodstock is the definitive one.

Jose Feliciano's version at the 1968 World Series was roundly criticized by the "establishment" - I think it's beautiful though...

And I love this Marvin Gaye performance at the 1983 NBA All-Star game

I like that there is no specific way the anthem has to be played. I think it allows for the anthem to remain relevant and "alive". While the "traditional" version will always give me goose bumps when played during the Olympics and similar events, other versions can give me goose bumps as well.

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