It’s pretty sad when you’re watching a sporting event and your first reaction is, “Oh, God, make it stop,” and the game hasn’t even started yet! Anybody watch the Rose Bowl? I don’t know who the singers were, don’t want to know, but I just kept thinking, if someone could actually sing the National Anthem in a non-tortured, non-butchered way that didn’t suck, that would be good.
You may be the greatest singer in the world, but I don’t want to hear your vocal acrobatics if you’re singing the National Anthem.
Just sing the song. Sing it straight.
My son, Josh, like most school kids in Maryland, took a field trip with his second grade class to Fort McHenry, the military base where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I know it’s not easy to sing. Apparently, the melody was an old drinking song once. Not a real toe-tapper, not catchy, but it’s what we have. It deserves some respect.
”Amazing Grace,” similarly, has been repeatedly violated. This song, too, simple and beautiful, deserves more respect than it gets. But go to a funeral, and in the midst of your grief, you’re dealing with some singer’s big moment to interpret this perfect gem of a hymn. Once again, the focus is on the singer, on the interpretation, rather than on the message.
Don’t interpret it. Just sing the song.
I got sidetracked.
Anyway, Josh’s entire class learned all of the verses to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” And they sang them right there at Fort McHenry, while we proud parents listened respectfully and took pictures. You know what? It was great. Because the focus was the song. They sang it straight.
It wasn’t about these kids, but about the place, and the actual rockets’ red glare that Francis Scott Key saw in 1814. On one very long night, while Key was being held captive on a British boat, on a diplomatic mission approved by President James Madison, he saw the huge American flag (sewn by Mary Pickersgill — the Flag House where she and some other ladies hand-sewed it in downtown Baltimore was on our school tour) flying triumphantly over the garrison at Fort McHenry, even though British warships were doing their best to bombard the crap out of the place. He was so inspired, he wrote the song. For better or worse, it’s ours.
It deserves to be sung straight. Please.
Isn’t there some singer out there who can just sing the damn song?
This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.