The Star Spangled Banner…
About two years ago, I was walking down the street from my mother’s house on my way to McDonald’s for a breakfast burrito. The weather was pleasant and the rush to get to school seemed to have passed on the streets. Everything was as calm as it could be for a city. Something on that walk caught my eye. There it sat on the side of the road discarded and crumpled, like many a writer’s thought. Good old red, white and blue. My eyes lit up, I extended it out and looked at it with pride. Even told my now husband I would never, ever part with it. To this day, it still has a place in my house.
The American flag has been a staple at many events, some political such as the inauguration, and others like the recently celebrated Super Bowl; we all know wherever the flag is the National Anthem is sure to follow. So every now and again I watch it on TV and why not. I will admit I sing along, in part to see if I still remember the lyrics and in part because it reminds me of everything I learned in American History class. A sense of there we were and here we stand today, still singing The Star Spangled Banner since it officially became our national anthem back on March 3rd, 1931.
The Star Spangled Banner has made the headlines every year for a number of years now. All headlines pretty much the same; “So and so forgot the lyrics — so and so sang it horribly — it was made too long — it was so perfect because it was lip-synched”.
It’s no wonder it made the headlines, these people who caused them are professional singers, or what passes for it these days. The thing is though, it’s the national anthem, it’s not meant sound flawless but it’s meant to be sung live. Granted playback or lip synching has been accepted since the 80’s, after all how else can they jump all over the stage and still sound good doing it. No problem there, it’s their music and their style. The national anthem however, is not theirs is ours collectively. While they can fake sing their entire career, the national anthem is just one thing where I find it unacceptable. Sure, it’s difficult to reach a consensus, after all you can’t please everybody. As for making it too long such as Alicia Keys did with her rendition of it yesterday. Come on! It’s the national anthem, it’s way to short to make it sound so endless. The more I heard “her version” the more I think, the problem is she added the time in all the wrong places; but hey, it’s all for the record books right? After all, her version is the longest rendition for a sports event to date, according to Yahoo Sports. As far as forgetting the lyrics goes, are you kidding me! You mean to tell me it’s really so impossible to remember two paragraphs? Give me a break. I memorized 9 paragraphs of the Raven in less than forty eight hours for an English assignment and people who make a living out of memorizing longer, songs forget the lyrics? Absolutely unforgivable and down right disrespectful.
I know, maybe it’s asking too much for the Star Spangled banner to be sung right and live; but don’t forget what it stands for, why it was written. I’m not asking for the best vocal cords in the business, nor am I asking for a drag along, or and edited version. All I want is some respect for all the men and women it represents. Forgetting the lyrics or lip-synching is not only classless it’s inexcusable. I wonder how long it will take the events in which the national anthem is featured to start using school choruses, or military bands to do the singing. At least they will not forget the lyrics or require a playback.