Friday, January 9, 2009

Oh, say, can you just sing the song?

I've never understood why the "Star Spangled Banner" is played before sporting events in this country, and particularly why it's played pretty much ONLY at sporting events. But if it's going to be performed, is it asking to much for the "singers" to sing it as the music is written, without adding their own "touches" to the song? A good example was the woman, unknown to me, who performed the National Anthem before Thursday night's college football national championship game. Toward the end, she was warbling and wailing to the extent that I found it necessary to check the TV screen to make sure someone hadn’t sneaked up behind her and shoved a red-hot poker up her wazoo. Sadly, her histrionics are becoming the norm, as these so-called singers try to put their own imprint on the grand old song. More often than not these days, the National Anthem is butchered. What do you say we just distribute CDs of the “Star-Spangled Banner” as performed by the late, great opera star Robert Merrill, who used to perform the anthem at Yankee Stadium. He always made Francis Scott Key proud.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all part of that odd notion that vocal gymnastics somehow equals great singing. Patti LaBelle's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner before one of the World Series games in the fall was one of the most frightening I've heard.

Streeeeeeetching out the Star Spangled Banner to the breaking point was spoofed once on an episode of "The Simpsons."

--Brad Hundt

January 9, 2009 at 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brant, I couldn't have said it better myself!

January 9, 2009 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I think this stems from American Idol...where people want to prove that, as anonymous said, "vocal gymnastics somehow equals great singing."

I'm not familiar with the singer Brant mentioned, but my favorite version of the anthem was done by Whitney Houston during the Super Bowl that took place during the first Gulf War. It gave me chills. Too bad she let Bobby Brown destroy her.

January 9, 2009 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger Dale Lolley said...

The national anthem should be sung - and sung the way it's written - before championship games, in my opinion.
Playing it before every other trivial game trivializes the song. Of course all the vocal gymnastics (good descripton Brad) do so as well.
There's nothing more chilling than seeing an athlete in tears after winning a gold in the Olympics as the anthem plays.
That leads me to another pet peeve. In the latest Olympics, people who were "winning" silvers and bronzes were running around draped in the flag as if they'd won the gold.
Finishing second or third just means you're the first or second loser.
Then again, maybe they were making sure they did that so that when the winner was proven to have used illegal substances, they had their poster moment.

January 9, 2009 at 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Joe Tuscano said...

The National Anthem, in my humble opinion, should be replaced by America The Beautiful. The best I've heard was Witney Houston's rendition at the Super Bowl and the worst was Roseanne's rendition before a San Diego baseball game.

The funniest occurred before a Steelers game in the 1980s. Goose Gosselin, who worked for KDKA radio at the time, was to sing the anthem before a Cleveland Browns game.

He stood on the bed of the Terrible Truck, if there was such a thing, and began to sing. But the microphone didn't work. The Steelers kept tapes of different versions of the song ready - single male, multiple males, single female, etc - just in case something like this would happen.

Instead of the single male tape being fed through the PA system, the person in charge grabbed a tape of the anthem sung by The Letterman. Goose stood on the truck mortified, as the four-part harmony rang down on the crowd.

After it was over, Browns center Joe DeLamielleure walked over and told Goose "That was the best anthem singing he had ever heard."

True story.

January 10, 2009 at 9:04 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Roseanne was horrifying. The person who hired her to do the anthem should have been taken out behind the stadium and shot. Dale, I agree with you about the silver and bronze medalists. If you're not the winner of an event, you're not the winner. It's that simple. But I guess people embracing second and third place is a trickle down from our society's desire to make sure everyone's a winner and everyone feels good about themselves. I'm not saying it isn't a great achievement to be the second-fastest man in the world, but you still didn't win.

January 10, 2009 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Dale Lolley said...

As long as it's not God Bless Amercia. God I hate that song. I refuse to watch Major League Baseball playoff games because they feel the need to sing it in the seventh inning stretch.

January 10, 2009 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

The singing of God Bless America during the seventh-inning stretch is one of those "burst of patriotism" things that grew out of 9/11. Now, it's just become rote and meaningless. But we'll keep doing it anyway, because if we stopped, we wouldn't love our country anymore.

January 11, 2009 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

The use of patriotic songs for the personal embellishment is disgusting. Perhaps the person singing the national anthem should be done behind a screen so that nobody can see the person doing the offering -- no, it is not a performance, rather a leading the people in the singing of the national anthem.

Yes, the national anthem should precede public events. And, it should be part of the TV coverage. NASCAR has it right. Some may wish to bash NASCAR for the antics of the fans, but the singing of the national anthem and the invocation being part of the TV coverage is the right way to do it. They are part of the event, so why shouldn't they be included. Oh yes, none of those singing the national anthem at a NASCAR race puts their personal embellishment. Just stand up and sing the words straight through, forthright and simple, with no warbling.

I am fascinated by those who want to change the song to God Bless America or America the Beautiful. Essentially, these are prayers, petitioning God for His blessings. With all the cry to push God out of the public square, why would these same folks ask for a change in the song, a petition to God?

Often, when God Bless America is played/sung at a public event, the words are sung out with gusto. These are often the same who live a lifestyle as if God didn't exist. With the pattern of so many in our society ignoring God, why should God bless America? He has no reason to bless our country, apart from His grace and mercy. It is certainly not from the behaviors of the people.

Whatever happened to Battle Hymn of the Republic? Many years ago in school, we learned Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, America the Beautiful, and Battle Hymn of the Republic. Are children learning these songs in the schools today? I doubt it. How will the young generations learn the patriot songs?

Perhaps the words of the Battle Hymn are too convicting ...? Just asking.

January 13, 2009 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Here is the only argument you need for eliminating the Star-Spangled Banner.... Macy Gray, Aug. 2001 - Pro Football Hall of Fame Exhibition game in Canton, Ohio. Enough said.

January 16, 2009 at 3:37 PM  

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