Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I meant to write about this last week...

It's been kind of crazy around here.

Ok, first, political culture consultant Ali called this to my attention late last week. If you don't trust our brilliant recommendations enough to read the article (come on, it's funny! for real!) then I will summarize by saying that Kinsey, one of the Post's opinion writers, proposes that we pick a new, more singer-friendly national anthem, and offers several viable suggestions. Reason being that the song spans nearly two full octaves where most normal people (read: not Martina Mcbride) have a range of less than one octave. This means that the majority of Americans cannot actually sing our national anthem without at some point sounding ridiculous.

Now, on this part of his thesis I can't really argue because true or false: everyone has heard more painful performances of the Star Spangled Banner than you've heard Jillian the Bachelorette say "ah-booot" instead of about. Ok, maybe not because she says that a lot, but everytime I hear someone sing it I'm crossing my fingers they won't miss the high notes.

So anyhow he also notes that our national anthem is terrifically filled with lyrics about violent battles. Well, sure it is, because it's about the American Revolution and the endurance of the flag (*symbol alert: representing patriotism) so I don't have a problem with that (although some of the other verses are a little more intense than the normal verse. Probably why we don't sing them. Also since there are like 6 it would take forever, you'd have to start singing before batting practice was over so the game could start on time.)

Kinsey also claims that "home of the brave" is kind of ludicrous because there's "nothing in the American myth (let alone reality) to suggest that we are braver than anyone else." However, historically here I take issue with him because the whole deal with the patriots was that they were brave enough to stand up for what they believed in despite seemingly insurmountable odds and unbeatable enemies (read: the entire British army/navy.) Also, as a result of the role America has played in most major wars, I'd say that bravery is certainly a part of the 'American myth', as it is something that is often lauded and poeticized and made movies about. So while there are certainly brave people in other countries, I'd say that having "home of the brave" in our national anthem isn't that absurd.

Of his suggestions for replacements, my pick is certainly "The Battlehymn of the Republic." So fun to sing and with classy and inspiring lyrics to boot. Although a rousing chorus of "God Bless America" complete with clashing cymbals would be fun too. I was always inspired by that country song "An American Child," too, which goes nicely with one of my favorite books, "An American Childhood", though the two are in no other way connected.

Ok, time for lunch. There was something else I meant to write about last week too but now I can't remember it...maybe later.


Emily said...

(This is Walker) I agree with most of your thoughts. To add fuel to the fire, here is a link to one of the worst national anthem performances ever: Carl Lewis singing the national anthem...


However, it is pretty awesome when someone nails our national anthem. Here is (in my opinion) one of the better/coolest national anthem performances. Need to watch it to the end...I present to you, Mr. Marvin Gaye:


Rosemary and Tim said...

Interesting post!! Enjoyed reading it.

Erin said...

I really like this. I've actually never thought about it before, but it's so, so true. And I guess I'm an idiot for not knowing that "The Star Spangled Banner" has many, many verses that we don't ever sing. My vote would be for "America the Beautiful" (I love "...And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!") or "God Bless America" (I love "... from the mountains, to the prairies, to the ocean, white with foam..."). Can you tell I'm getting into this?