Letter: Just sing it straight!
I read with interest Dan Williams’s column, “Taking liberties with the national anthem? Why not?” (Monitor Forum, April 15).
While music changes as time goes on, some music should never change. Our national anthem is one of them. Yes, the music was written by an Englishman, and it was actually the melody of a British song with bawdy lyrics. However, there is a difference between that song and “The Star Spangled Banner.”
I give this advice to the next person asked to sing the national anthem at an event: Save the vocal and musical gymnastics and the physical gyrations for your concerts.
This is not a piece of jazz for a sax or a loud, head-banging piece of music. Just sing this song the way you were taught in kindergarten: straight up, no styling. Sing it with the awareness that there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines watching you from bases and outposts all over the world. Don’t make them cringe with your self-centered ego gratification.
Sing it as if you are standing before a row of 86-year-old World War II vets wearing their Purple Hearts, Silver Stars and flag pins on their cardigans, and you want them to be proud of you for honoring them and the country they love – not because you want them to think you are a superstar musician. Sing it like you are singing to the families of those who died to protect us. Sing “The Star Spangled Banner” with the courtesy and humility that tells the audience that it is about America, not you!