So Gallantly Screaming

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

It's nearly impossible to sing, the lyrics are archaic (O'er?), but it's one song most of us think we know all the words to: The Star-Spangled Banner (and trust me, you probably don't). Patt Morrison at the Los Angeles Times says it's also a prime opportunity for a beleagured politician to take a stand: instead of the perennial favorite, flag-burning, why not propose a constitutional amendment to protect our national anthem? I have just one question for Ms. Morrison: Does that mean Atlanta fans won't be able to sing the last line how they're wont to do: "...and the home, of the.... BRAVES!" Because that might be an amendment I could get behind... so long as I can continue to shout "O!" at the beginning of "Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave..." when I stand up and sing at Camden Yards!

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

America the Beautiful would not be more inclusive for me. I am an atheist and a song that includes the line, "God shed His grace on thee" would make me feel quite left out. I also like the current national anthem.

Sent by Matthew Mishalak | 3:56 PM | 9-13-2007

"Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain". To me this sounds like it could be ANY country, and the tune puts me to sleep. It might make a better national lullaby.

"The land of the free and the home of the brave" truly signifies America to me. I literally get goose bumps when I sing that line. Maybe what we need is a contest to pick a more singable tune for those lyrics?

Sent by Virginia B. Taylor | 4:04 PM | 9-13-2007

Patt Morrison is right! They should sing the Anthem the way it was meant to be sung. What do these people think it represents? Freedom of speech?

Sent by Peter R. Walters | 4:08 PM | 9-13-2007

I live in Australia and work with a lady who knows the words to the US national anthem just from hearing it in movies! I love the US anthem and love being in the US over the 4th of July when my church congregation sing it with a lot of gusto - it sounds great.

Sent by Emma Ziesel | 7:39 PM | 9-13-2007

The Star Spangled Banner is gorgeous and not difficult to sing if you pick the right key. As an atheist, I appreciate the fact that God isn't mentioned until the fourth verse - yes, there are more verses, all gorgeous and moving, the fourth being particularly relevant nowadays - and therefore not mentioned in the one verse commonly sung.

I would highly recommend looking at the lyrics for the other three verses. As poetry, "America the Beautiful" just doesn't compare. I vote against "God Bless America" and that ridiculous re-tooling of "God Save the Queen" known as "My Country 'tis of Thee".

Sent by tina | 2:22 PM | 9-14-2007

I don't like the fact that the Star-Spangled Banner is so militaristic. I think America the Beautiful is a much better choice. How would we go about making the change?

Sent by samuel rutledge | 2:31 PM | 9-14-2007

I find two things of particular interest in your "National Anthem Bashing"; 1)That it is unsingable and yet you say it was a drinking song, so what I'm hearing it that a bunch of drunks could sing this tune but nobody can?(that doesn't say much for the sorry state of culture in this country)& 2) What really makes you think that bad singers won't do to "America the Beautiful" exactly what they are doing to the current national anthem? I assure you that all indications via "Star Search" are that they can and will do whatever they can to the song because it is NOT the fault of the song but the fault of the singers. I'd bet my last nickel that people in Wales wouldn't have a lick of trouble singing our current anthem because they are a nation of people who can and do sing very well. No, I'm not Welch! But I'm a musician and I'm tired of people blaming the song and not their lack of talent. It would also be my guess that few, if any, including the host and critic on the show could recite the words to "America the Beautiful" without making a mistake! Try it. Don't shoot the horse until you've got a better replacement!! If you can't sing the anthem we have now my guess is you can't sing a new one either. Attempts to have contests to write new state songs or songs about capital cities have failed miserably mainly because music education in this country is poor at best.

Sent by David Blakley, violinist/singer | 2:50 PM | 9-14-2007

"America the Beautiful" while lovely does not stir my soul or make me want to stand up and salute. "God Bless America" is okay, but only if you're confident that there is a God. Yet, every time I hear the "Star Spangled Banner", I fight back tears. The image of Francis Scott Key straining to see whose flag would greet the dawn reminds me of the price so many Americans have paid for our freedom. We are the land of the free because we are the home of the brave. Ours is the most moving national anthem in the world. Just watch the Olympics for proof of that.

Sent by Kris Moore | 6:25 PM | 9-14-2007

The Star-Spangled Banner is a wonderful anthem that represents our county well. I see no reason for someone to feel they have the right to decide it needs to changed. I had my son learn the words and gain an understanding of their meaning before he was able to start to learn to drive. The Star-Spangled Banner is a wonderful anthem that represents our county well. I see no reason for someone to feel they have the right to decide it needs to be changed. I had my son learn the words and gain an understanding of their meaning before he was able to start to learn to drive. With privilege comes responsibility and knowing ones own anthem is a responsibility. To ask less of an American is to offer up excuses for a lack of knowledge and allows privilege without the pride that comes form a responsibility met.

Sent by Sherri Foster | 10:59 PM | 9-14-2007

You obviously have not heard Faith Hill's version. Also, the Coast Guard Petty Officer who sang the anthem before today's Nascar race in New Hampshire did a beautiful job. I didn't catch her missing a single note. What makes you think that a substitute piece's words would be any better remembered by the general populace?

Sent by Richard A. Harris | 8:58 PM | 9-16-2007

It can be sung well. At a Vancouver Canuks hockey game a member of the Vancouver Opera sang it, and it was beautiful.

Sent by Mike Hoffman | 3:39 PM | 9-17-2007

I am sure I'm not the first to call your attention to Jake Shimabukuro's rendition of our anthem. It's musical, respectful and moving... on ukulele! Really! (Track 5 of his Gently Weeps CD)

Sent by Dennis Perkinson | 10:01 PM | 9-17-2007