Francis Scott Key still rules. That’s good news for Flag Day.
The Internet has been chattering a bit lately with the question of whether the United States ought to change its national anthem. This week, Rasmussen Reports released a survey that said a whopping 82 percent want to keep “The Star-Spangled Banner” right where it is.
Why would anyone want to change it? The No. 1 reasons seems to be that it’s impossible to sing. You start with a quick trip to the musical basement, and by the time you reach “rockets red glare” you’re on a fast-moving elevator to the top floor, which launches you into the air somewhere around the “land of the free-e-e-e-e!” That’s if your voice hasn’t croaked by then.
On NECN.com, writer Greg Wayland quotes the artistic director of the Berklee College of Music American Roots, Matt Glaser, as calling it a mess — deadly and plodding in terms of musical artistry.
And the words are apparently so confusing even singers like Christine Aguilera can’t get them right at the start of football games.
The songs often mentioned as replacements are “America the Beautiful” or “God Bless America.” But the irreverent site policymic.com (warning, the site contains some offensive language), also suggests Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” Neil Diamond’s “America” and some jaw-droppers like Green Day’s “American Idiot” (imagine how proud that would make you feel during Olympic medal ceremonies).
This sounds like a ridiculous topic, but the “Star-Spangled Banner” has been the official national anthem only since 1931.
Still, as much as I like “America the Beautiful,” I side with the majority in the Rasmussen Reports poll. (An unscientific Fox poll found 91 percent in favor of keeping it, high notes and all.) Forget about artistry, the song is full of history. The flag Francis Scott Key saw over Ft. McHenry is on display in the Smithsonian to remind us that we’re not just singing words.
Besides, if you want an easy national anthem to sing, go live in one of those sissy countries.