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Butchering the National Anthem

Feb 4, 2010, 11:20 AM EDT

American Flag.jpgI’m not a fanatic about it — I think some of the more unique interpretations of the National Anthem are kinda neat — but’s Mike Bauman has a point:

“The Star-Spangled Banner” has been trivialized, tortured and
trampled upon at ballparks throughout America. Obviously, there are
completely acceptable renditions of the anthem sung before baseball
games, but too many alleged singers, given the privilege of singing the
national anthem, are acting like they are singing torch songs in a
They are singing painfully elongated versions of the anthem,
in which the meaning of the song is distorted, warped, lost. All that
remains is these people trying to impress the world with their vocal

From a purely musical perspective “The Star Spangled Banner” is kind of an awful song. It ranges up and down and all over the place and its lyrics and phrasings are awkward to sing. In light of that, I can see why some people are tempted to do weird things to it.

But I gotta say, if ballparks decided to completely dispense with live, sung versions of the thing and went with, I dunno, recordings or small military bands or something, I’d be just fine with it.

At least until a Congress with common sense comes along and makes “America the Beautiful” our National Anthem. Much, much better song.

  1. okobojicat - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    You are forgetting the important thing. Banning God Bless America from the 7th inning. That is possibly the most annoying song ever played at a baseball stadium. and yes, I’m including MmmBop in the comparison.

  2. Joe Tetreault - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    You’ll not tempt me into a musical debate, I swear. However, this is baseball, Craig. This isn’t ‘Nam. There are rules. The most important rule is that our National Anthem is best performed by an organist. In fact, all baseball ballpark music is enhanced when played on an organ. Somebody posted a church organ version of Nothing Else Matters, so Mariano I’m sure can retain his Metallica entrance, only with the dulcet sounds of a pipe organ.

  3. Phil - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    At least until a Congress with common sense comes along and makes “America the Beautiful” our National Anthem. Much, much better song.
    Ray Charles version only, please.

  4. BC - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    My vote for the National Anthem is “Slow Ride”. Or if we want to get a little more modern, how about “Bust A Move”.
    PS. This is the best anthem botch ever. EVER.

  5. Jonny5 - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:38 AM

    Is it April yet?

  6. Grant - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    I am also of two minds about this. On the one hand, it’s a terrible song, so who cares? On the other hand, all those vocal calisthenics that people do with the song are supremely annoying. I blame American Idol. Or something

    I also agree that America the Beautiful is clearly the way to go.

  7. Joe - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    Or, we can do without playing the anthem at baseball games altogether. Or maybe save it for Memorial Day, July 4 and the playoffs.

  8. Jonny5 - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    In other nationally inspired news, which makes me want to throw up all my breakfast……
    House Democratic leaders are preparing to vote to put our countries deficit 1.9 trillion dollars deeper into debt….
    What have my fellow Americans done? Why do we want a government whose only answer to our problems thusfar has been, “Cut a huge check for money we don’t have, to give to the people who have more money than the government does”. Sounds Logical. NOT!!! And just think….. This is without the Pork barrel laden healthcare bill. Excuse me while I go get sick…..
    As far as the Anthem goes……. We’ve strayed so far from where this country was meant to go, what’s the use for preserving the anthem anymore???? I say Effit!!! Let them take it and ruin it along with the country, it fits better that way…..

  9. Curious George - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    “All that remains is these people trying to impress the world with their vocal chops.”
    Hasn’t the unfathomable success of American Idol proven that this is EXACTLY what the American consumer wants? Songs over-sung, over-emoted, over-everythinged.
    Ya know man, it USED to be about the music. C’mon, pass the Dutchie.

  10. Stone - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    I have to say, the National Anthem/7th Inning God Bless America is probably the most annoying thing about Baseball these days. It seems like I’m being brainwashed every time I attend or watch a game on tv. Just get on with the game. There’s no reason to play the Anthem or God Bless America when you have two American teams playing in the regular season (or post season for that matter).

  11. KR - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    I am a big fan of the Star-Spangled Banner. I find America the Beautiful a bit dull.
    And I don’t like the contortions some singers put it though. But sometime I want to see someone sing the second verse of SSB at a game, too. That’d confuse people. But I’ve always thought the first verse makes no sense without the second: the first verse asking a question (“does the star-spangled banner yet wave?”), and the second answering it (“yes”).
    Totally agree on getting rid of God Bless America.

  12. Curious George - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    “We’ve strayed so far from where this country was meant to go”.
    I’m almost afraid to ask, where was this country MEANT to go?
    I can understand that the demise of the slave-based agrarian economy has inspired much melancholy.

  13. Megary - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    Now Craig, see what you went and started?

  14. ralphdibny - Feb 4, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    The SSB is the perfect baseball song, or at least the tune is:
    “This absence of an official connection to drinking did not keep the song from being associated with alcohol, as it was commonly used as a sobriety test: If you could sing a stanza of the notoriously difficult melody and stay on key, you were sober enough for another round.”
    I would like to live in a world where beer vendors applied this test. (of course, I’m not tone-deaf.)

  15. Jonny5 - Feb 4, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    Wow that’s an asinine thing to say. Let’s not forget it was the British who built “that” economy you speak so fondly of…. If you forgot that song was due to us fighting a war to eventually put in place “all men are created equal” that war brought abour national anthem. Just for a refresher Our country was to be ran By the people for the people. We were meant to be Free in a free country, and we were also to be free of a Tyrannical gov’t. As of now we are forced to support those who either cannot or will not work, soon to also cover all of their Healthcare expenses while we also more than likely pay for our own lesser health coverage, meanwhile our tax dollars are being rolled into huge pork barrel bills to buy votes for bills we don’t want in the first place.

  16. tbliggins - Feb 4, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    +1000 to Joe and Stone. What is the connection between sports and patriotism again? I understand it and love it during any event played by a national team. But what is the need for 2700 people having to sit thru it on a Thursday night Nats v Marlins game. Ban it everywhere.

  17. OldNo7 - Feb 4, 2010 at 12:11 PM


  18. Ace - Feb 4, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    What made you think this was the place to post a rambling list of semi-coherent right-wing talking points?

  19. Charles Gates - Feb 4, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    If you forgot that song was due to us fighting a war to eventually put in place “all men are created equal” that war brought abour national anthem.
    Unfortunately, it was taken both literal and ‘illiteral.’ Men meant ‘men.’ No women. And ‘all men’ meant ‘all white men, preferably owning land.’ As far as today’s translation is concerned, it’s ‘all men are created equal (women too), as long as you live your life in accordance with how the voters in the bible belt say you should.’

  20. Jonny5 - Feb 4, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    I’m not a tea bagger. I’m not a republican. I’m not a democrat. I’m just a concerned citizen who has kids that will eventually have to pay for what happens today. I’ll shut up about the corrupt gov’t that some of us are forced to worship over pride.
    Have a couple for me though old no.7

  21. Kendall - Feb 4, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    I am pretty sure that the anthem was written (or at least the lyrics were, the music had already been written) during the War of 1812, not the Revolutionary War. Let’s try to keep the facts straight when rambling about what the anthem supposedly stands for.

  22. Jon - Feb 4, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    I certainly hope this isn’t the only time you’ll be using the “Bleeding Gums Murphy” tag.

  23. YankeesfanLen - Feb 4, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    OK it’s all boring unless you’re at (any of the) Yankee Stadium(s) with Robert Merrill doing the SSB and Kate Smith “God Bless America” and then, with the Yanks winning 10-1 over KC you can get a little… among yourselves.

  24. Matt - Feb 4, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    Be careful Craig, there was a Mr. Belvedere episode in which Bob Uecker’s character had to apologize on tv for saying the same thing.

  25. Jonny5 - Feb 4, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    Wow! see how much anger everyone has about our government?? Right left and central, everyone seems thouroughly pissed!!! Hmmm? I guess I may be more correct than I imagined…… ;>P

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