It's not too hard. But Robert Klein, in one of his early-70s bits, rightly lampooned the range required sing both the low "Oh, say..." and the high "rockets red glare".

The tradition of singing it before US sporting events dates back to the patriotmania of WWII; zillions have now done the honors - some sports teams have regulars, like Chicago's Wayne Messmer, while another tradition has just about anyone sing (the Sales Manager's neighbor's "talented" niece, e.g., or Miss America).

Given last night's rendition of The Star Spangled Banner at the MLB All-Star game, I've had to put up with people arguing with me that it was just fine.

Fine that Anastacia (I guess from that awful program American Idol - if that's not her name, sorry - by the same token, who it is means nothing to my point) didn't even know the frigging words; fine that she caterwauled through the whole thing - it's not a Gospel song, people. The Gospel style didn't even exist when someone put a tune to Francis Scott Key's poem! Where the hell does the confusion come from?!?

The tune, as it was written for The Star Spangled Banner, is what is to be used by everyone. It is everyone's property, and everyone's responsibility, to represent it in a uniform manner. It is, in theory anyway, to bind us together as one people using the vehicle of music, thus eliminating asinine discussions like "it's each person's own personal interpretation" and that sort of BS.

Even more extremely, if we have everyone singing their own original tune or original words, it just becomes a collection of meaningless and unintelligible noise, which compeltely destroys the meaning, purpose, and point of having a National Anthem in the first place.

And even more disturbing is when people perform it and don't know the words, as I said before. That, more than anything else, is nothing short of shameful and disrespectful. It's funny in The Naked Gun; it's not funny in real life.

None of this has anything to do, by the way, with "freedom of expression" or that argument. That ludicrous application of the concept, again, erodes away the whole point to even having a National Anthem - not just America's. but any country.

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