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James Taylor may have flubbed the national anthem

Oct 24, 2013, 9:57 PM EDT

James Taylor Getty Getty Images

After Mary J. Blige sang the national anthem before Game 1 of the World Series last night, Red Sox fan and music legend James Taylor did the honors before Game 2 tonight. But he took some liberties in doing so. Or perhaps he just forgot what he was singing.

As you’ll see below, Taylor began by singing the beginning of “America the Beautiful” before quickly moving into the “Star-Spangled Banner.” It sure looked accidental, but he at least made a nice recovery.

(Hat-tip to Hilary Sargent for the video)

UPDATE: We now have the full video from

  1. proudlycanadian - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    He is supposed to sing both songs tonight, but forgot that America the Beautiful is to be sung later. I suspect that he read Craig’s earlier comment today praising America the Beautiful. At least he did not sing Sweet Caroline.

  2. peterjohnjoseph - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    I think he was just taking artistic liberty there.. I’ve heard singers do similar things before. Especially a guy thats known for making things his own in the singer-songwriter tradition like Taylor. You heard the rest. Purposely going out of key, rhythm, and changing time. I don’t believe this was a flub. I just think it wasn’t the best ad-lib I’ve heard in a National Anthem.

    • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:38 PM

      Honestly, I retract everything I just said after listening to the key he started in, and the key he played in while he just sang America The Beautiful. Same intro. Same key. Flub.

    • racksie - Oct 25, 2013 at 12:32 AM

      Look, the National Anthem is a two minute song. You do not take liberties on the national anthem. You sing it, pay your respect, and get out. Tired of people trying to “make the national anthem their own”‘. It is the national anthem, not something you wrote in your bedroom.

      • paperlions - Oct 25, 2013 at 8:14 AM

        How is singing the national anthem like a robot a sign of respect. If a person is a talented artist/singer, doesn’t the effort to put as much emotion and effort into the song show honor and respect to the song and the singing of it?

      • racksie - Oct 25, 2013 at 12:42 PM

        It is not some jazz ditty. and more often than not, the more someone tries to “make their own”, the more likely they are to screw it up. And people can show as much, or more emotion, and do a stunning rendition at the proper tempo. When hits the three minute mark, it is more about the person singing the anthem, and their face time, than the anthem itself. And it regularly goes well past three minutes. I have suffered through far too many horrible, self important renditons of the anthem at sporting events. Showing off your vocal chops is not what the anthem is for.

      • nworca - Oct 25, 2013 at 3:07 PM

        Indeed, not some jazz ditty. The lyrics are by Francis Scott Key, but the melody is by an 18th century Englishman, written for a gentleman’s club called the Anacreontic society. It was a popular drinking song.

      • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:11 PM

        nworca, thank you.. I came back here to check replies on what I posted last night and saw ‘racksie’s’ overly PC comments, and I was compelled to give him the history of the song.. My god, some people are more aware of the traditions and actions that have become the “norm” than the actual understanding of what is being sung. What is wrong with putting emotion into any song? It is just that, a song. An inanimate piece of Americana. If I were you, I would pay more attention to what the song is sung for, rather than how it is sung.

        Granted, I’m still not saying I liked James Taylor’s rendition. I just don’t think it was bad enough, flub or not, to get angry and go on a PC tangent over.

  3. yankeesgameday - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    While I kinda guffawed at his flub when it happened live, I need to ask why a blogger named Hilary Sargent is standing there with her phone recording the national anthem off of her TV… It’s about the 7th inning now… is she still standing there recording 6 second segments for her Vine feed in the hopes DJ re-blogs that put out at first? That tops my sad meter by 1000%.

    • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:51 PM

      Well there is this thing called DVR now. I believe they’re available in New York.

    • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:55 PM

      I’m sorry, I know I just replied, but I’m still hung up on this. Not to mention you went on quite a tangent there, so I feel I’m entitled.

      I’m not sure what is sadder; how sad this makes you, or how sad I am that you are not aware of the wonders of DVR.

    • yankeesgameday - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:12 PM

      no sh*t sherlocks. welcome to taking things too literal school. of course she DVR’d it, but she still took this throw away moment that everyone realized was a mistake and thought “AHA, I’m gonna point at James Taylor’s mistake” and DJ took it a step further and actually re-posted it on a major network’s baseball blog, which is really the saddest part of all.

      • Jason Lukehart - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:23 PM

        …and then things got sadder still, when internet commenters went on and on about it.

  4. saintsfire - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    regardless it was a beautiful rendition well received both there and here a thousand miles away from Boston

  5. natocoles - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    One thing: I was listening to the radio broadcast (ESPN radio) and before James Taylor sang, the broadcasters said that he was going to sing “America The Beautiful”. Now, I don’t know if they said anything about “The Star Spangled Banner” in addition to that…

    But again, before James Taylor sang anything, the broadcasters said he was going to sing “America The Beautiful”.

  6. alan3008 - Oct 25, 2013 at 12:41 AM

    All those drugs he took in the past are having an effect on his memory. Sad.

    • 18thstreet - Oct 25, 2013 at 8:43 AM

      Performance enhancing.

  7. nothanksimdriving123 - Oct 25, 2013 at 1:15 AM

    Seems like a whoopsie there, but given how many others we’ve seen from fielders and an ump in 18 innings, I’d say he’s just trying to get in the spirit of the thing.

  8. cwillicc - Oct 25, 2013 at 5:15 AM

    Big whoop. So what. James Taylor is a National Treasure.

    • 18thstreet - Oct 25, 2013 at 8:44 AM

      Former President James Taylor!

  9. gentfromva - Oct 25, 2013 at 5:45 AM

    …And liberals get upset when they’re called un-patriotic. I’m a James Taylor fan. When a professional singer has the honor of singing the National Anthem at the World Series, you sing for all Americans. I know, I’ve heard it before ‘ Lighten up, Francis’. LOL

    • yahmule - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:03 AM

      Actually, I’m just trying to figure out what the fuck you’re talking about.

    • chinahand11 - Oct 28, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      …. and some dumba**es have to bring politics into a baseball discussion.

  10. jimmyt - Oct 25, 2013 at 7:22 AM

    Music legend indeed. Not to anyone who is a musician. He is and always has been a simple Pop artist who played and sang songs that some found pleasing to the ear (not that there is anything wrong with that) but he is in no way some great guitar player or song writer.

    • stex52 - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:12 AM

      This post won’t make you any friends on line; especially with our female posters. But I would agree with you for the most part. I would add, though, that you appreciate him more if you have seen him live on stage. He has excellent rapport with a live audience, and you appreciate the pop riffs more.

  11. yahmule - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    • carryingconcealed - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:01 AM

      Holy shit! This was a friggin’ horrible rendition. He massacred our National Anthem.

      • racksie - Oct 25, 2013 at 12:51 PM

        See here is a version I can agree with. Yep, he changed the melody, but you know what? Right on the correct tempo. Two minutes. Well don, Jose!

  12. mike334m - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    So why is no one talking about Blige’s flub of the last line when she sang “For the land of the free . . . ” instead of “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”?

    • stex52 - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:12 AM

      I don’t know.

      Because it’s not very interesting, maybe?

    • carryingconcealed - Oct 25, 2013 at 2:01 PM

      Because Blige is black and we’re not allowed to speak negatively of minorities. If you’re white, however, the gloves are coming off.

      BTW, I assume you know that you’re a racist and a bigot for even asking the question.

  13. embracediversityusa - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    The is no greater asset in our country than our diversity and our potential to use it for good (i.e. not to run out to buy assault weapons in some warped view of the Constititution right to protect against everyone who doesn’t look, sound,or think exactly like you!) There should be nothing but praise for the diverse artistry of all those who individualize our national anthem, including James Taylor, Jose Feliciano, and Jimi Hendrix. As to cloning the sound, for an anthem of Francis Scott Key’s historic poem during War of 1812, why did we elect music that a direct rip-off of a song melody written for a British men’s social club, and again for America, “My country tis of thee”, directly plagiarize G-d save the Queen/King, British national anthem? For those who don’t recognize that we are all immigrants to this geat land, whether from the days of the Mayflower, or every arrival since, and our heritage is greatness of diversity, not some supremist ideology of cloned uniformity. You may also want to wake up and experience a world beyond USA (World Series is a joke if only one MLB baseball team is outside USA). FYI, to the President James Taylor post, many presidents named James, one Taylor (Zachary), Tyler (John), but is diversity of expresssion is valued, I will support JT for Prez (with or without Carly Simon – don’t be vain ). -:)

  14. losangelesfan - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    This is how you flub the National Anthem

    • carryingconcealed - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:06 AM

      One of the single-most disrespectful acts toward everything this country used to stand for that I’ve ever seen. Yes, I know, libbies, the First Amendment has her covered, right?

      • stex52 - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:31 AM

        Pretty much. It was horrible and disrespectful and not remotely funny. But yes, the First Amendment does cover it.

        You know the whole “libby” thing makes you sound mildly deranged?

      • jakat - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:46 AM

        Hang on guys and dolls: I consider myself a “Liberal”. Read what I have to say about him below or above, whatever? One other thing: I wouldn’t associate with Taylor other than taking a “batter up” with my fists to his nose for a grand slam. Liberal? Ship him out of the US, with his “land of the freaks”! Please do not mistake a political term with peoples attitudes. Perhaps just saying, “A person who can have keen, modern insight”, or some other set of words. thanx

  15. jakat - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    So much for following the written version on the National Anthem. There have been flubs of it, and of course intentional change to it, that when done with class, respect and taste can be welcomed. After all, there’s always an exception to the rule. But Taylor’s starting with the wrong song, wasn’t an intentional mix into the real thing here. You could see by the look on his face, he had made a million dollar mistake. As if that wasn’t enough, that old half-tuned box guitar had no place in the Anthem. As for playing the written notes, he might have hit them on a couple dozen notes as they should be, but it looked more of an accident to the series of off pitch nonsensical garbage James had to foul the air with.
    It just goes to show MLB, never have a “one-hit” performer do an important tune like this again. I think going back to his turn to other faiths, rather than non-traditional American faiths may have put him on an agenda to soil things. It sure was soiled. He was on and off again about as often as a group of children on the carnival rides.
    This is a serious offense. As children, weren’t we taught not to disrespect the National Anthem? To fold the flag properly, and not to let the flag drop to the ground, to pick up dust, mud or dirt? And do not try to tell me times have changed. We still bleed when cut, and I’m trying to stop it after hearing that one. Try to put that version into one sentence. Okay, here goes: Taylor mistakenly piled one mistake on another mistake throughout mistaken picking his mistakenly tuned guitar, through mistakenly bashing the US again, even going so far as to sing, ” … the land of the freaks” with a smirk on his face, that deserves having that guitar shoved up his… well you know now that he was a convert to Islam years ago who openly discussed it during a TV interview decades ago. I’m not accusing him of anything. I’m just trying to make sure others do not shame a tradition of showing respect to the flag of what was the greatest country for free men and women in the world. No wonder we have a hard time continuing to make that claim now-days.

    • stex52 - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:39 AM

      I think you have James Taylor mixed up with Cat Stevens.

    • racksie - Oct 25, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      Definaiely has him confused with Cat Stevens.

    • yahmule - Oct 25, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      Jump on the peace train, Jakat.

    • chinahand11 - Oct 28, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      Dude, you just made a big rant about the wrong person. Do some research and if you wish to be taken seriously don’t put lines in your rant like “he was a convert to Islam years ago.” Stay on your political websites.

  16. embracediversityusa - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    While we will not argue against Roseanne expression being offensive, and those who perform heinous acts are even more offensive, WE THE PEOPLE and a country of initials US, should be more concerned about bridging all into our society, and understand what is driving his behaviour rather than just deamonizing it, it is not US against the forces of evil, it’s building a world of inclusion, that cares about everyone on earth and supports each other in building a better society, rather than separating and fearing each other. Sorry being first in number of people killing each other and number of people we lock away in prisons, or imprison ourselves in homes as fortresses of fear is not America the Beautiful, nor the land of the free and home of the brave. However, this is not surprising for a country that equates giving basic health care to all, something done by every other civilized society on earth, a form of communism !

  17. embracediversityusa - Oct 25, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    I am amazed about people’s concern about how national anthem songs are sung during a World Series or whether there is some nudity shown during a Superbowl in front of our children, or whether Prez Clinton lied about an affair, but seem to have no concern whatsoever for the contribution of the US in violence, including not counting human lives of other nations, while we spread our so called greatest democratic values with bombs on every corner of the globe! BTW, who cares what faith JT or Prez Obama is, are we not a society with freedom of religion ? I know you are just so morally superior, and have such a proud history, including murdering the native American population, enslaving the forced African immigration, and imprisoning in work camps the Japanese-American population, while closing the door and ignoring genocide of millions in the world.

  18. corvusrex96 - Oct 25, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    Seems like a non issue but there are a contingent of folks who would prefer “America the beautiful ” as our national anthem . Interesting to find out his opinion on that subject

  19. soulful62 - Oct 25, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Wow. What a waste of words and time that has followed this article (including mine). Maybe someone should just ask the source. JT is a professional, of the greatest kind, and would have no reason to lie.

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