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The PJ Tatler

Scott Ott


July 3, 2014 - 9:37 am
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Face it, our National Anthem (“The Star Spangled Banner,” for those of you educated in government schools) is just hard to sing.

The range of notes spans 1.5 octaves, which is about all the average human can do. But even then, your ability to sing it well depends on the key, and the midpoint of your range.

For all practical purposes, nobody in America — not one person — can actually sing the national anthem in a way that others want to hear. That’s why we all sing it together — to drown out the horrid screeching and croaking, and to make ourselves feel better about our middling talents.

So rather than sustain this incessant assault on our self-esteem, I think it’s time we pick a new National Anthem. And before you protest about tradition or law, let me also suggest that the National Anthem has become a cultural anachronism.

Written by a white guy, held prisoner on a ship by other white guys, the words ramble on and on about a piece of fabric, and some war somewhere fought over something. But nobody knows what it means. Francis Scott Key’s poem, later put to music, isn’t even called “The Star Spangled Banner,” but “Defense of Fort McHenry.” I’m sure that’s in every Kindle at the Army War College.

There’s a difference between antique and vintage. The latter is cool. There’s a difference between old school and old timey. The former is cool. Our National Anthem is antique and old timey.

And one last thing. The song starts with a question (“O, say can you see?”) , and we never get the answer — at least not in the only verse that anyone has memorized. Everyone who’s ever watched a sit-com knows that you have to resolve the conflict in 22 minutes or less.

(SPOILER ALERT: Three additional verses of Key’s original poem all indicate that the flag still waved above the fort after sunrise. BTW, the British troops went back home and we got to keep our country. I’m sorry if you hadn’t heard about that yet. I warned you.)

For all of those reasons, and Roseanne Barr, I propose we change the National Anthem, and offer two possible alternatives.

First, I suggest James Brown’s “I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing” (see video below). I think the dancin’ jam and sax solo in the middle will be particularly popular at ball parks and middle school classrooms. I recently read an article speculating on why there aren’t more Black libertarians. IMHO, it’s because folks haven’t heard this song enough. So, here’s my #1 option.

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All Comments   (13)
All Comments   (13)
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Pretty much, we can't sing. Not even Happy Birthday.
The. Anthem. Stays.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
No. The National Anthem should not be sung at all; it should only be played by the US Marine Corps Band.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
No love for "Living in America"?
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you're looking for an anthem which no one can mess up due to a melody that uses too much range, maybe you need a rap song. After all, they don't have melodies at all. They've just got people droning away in a monotone. Nobody can sing a monotone out of tune! (Of course, that doesn't stop anyone from getting the words wrong.)
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
The atheistic left would never tolerate 'God Bless America' as national anthem.
'America the Beautiful' would be my choice, short, sweet, and not difficult to sing.
Besides it's already achieved proper historical status and recognition.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment

Shawn Phillips' Fans Web Site and Blog
The best kept secret in the music business

Times of a Madman, Trials of a Thief
Times of a madman and trials of a thief
Appalling decisions of squalling belief
Basking in bedrooms that hookers bequeath and they search for pleasure
Constant confusion calamities’ plight
Doubtless it doubles the devil’s delight
Easy as dying away from the light and they’re dead in leisure
Footing the future as part of the bill
God is within you and works through your will
Hating to stay there and watch while you kill all your sons and daughters
Imminent idols absurdly enchant
Justification to rave and to rant
Knighting is over we’ve learned how to plant and we’ll change things gently
Love is the lotus of white baby blue
Man and his woman collapse when it’s true
Never some try it ’cause they’re scared of you but the fire is raging
Open your mind and your heart to be still
Peace is the endlessly crest of the hill
Quietly shattering and soft as a quill then it stays forever
Reality’s frozen in art and your heart
Simply believe it and then you can start
Truth is the answer and not just a part yet the word’s been spoken
Unity struggles on this speck of dust
Valiantly scraping the fast forming rust
World is as beauty it’s under the crust in its formless phases
Xenophobes revel in ignorant fear
You are belittled when this is too near
Zoning’s absurd and it shouldn’t be here for we all are living

34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
1) If I Had A Hammer (and Sickle)

2) Lady Willpower

3) Traces of Love

4) Times of A Madman, Trials of a Thief
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
There have been serious suggestions about choosing "God Bless America" as the new anthem. I could go along with that.
One of England's great patriotic songs is "I Vow to Thee." Worth checking out on YouTube. The words speak to any patriot.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, the poem was supposedly set to the tune of a drinking song popular in Britain and the colonies. Maybe we are just not singing it (or hearing it) drunk enough?
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks Scott. Good thing Barry Hussein didn't have this in his mind though in the summer of '04, though. He may have quoted it in his convention speech.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
He wants the Muslim call to prayer
As national anthem ! And replace the
Bald Eagle with a Goat!
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
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