Our National Anthem

Steven Tyler sang The Star-Spangled Banner before Sunday’s AFC Championship game. He sang it straight until he let out a scream near the end, then he finished the last line. When I heard him scream, I said, “Yeah!” and thought, “Go, Steven!”

Then I thought of the calls that would come in to talk radio over the next couple of days. “It was awful, he screamed. There’s no screaming in the national anthem. The country is going to hell. They shouldn’t be allowed to change the national anthem. They should sing it right”

Sing it right? You’re not a singer or musician are you?

My friend, Cindy Howes at WYEP Pittsburgh, posted a Rolling Stone story on her FB page earlier this month about a state senator in Indiana who wants to fine you if you “change” the national anthem at public school events. $25 fine. And what does that mean, ‘change?’ People who don’t know anything about music should not be allowed to make laws about it.

(By the way, the above referenced story says Massachusetts already has a law imposing some restrictions on how the national anthem may be performed. $100 fine.)

The first one to change the song was Francis Scott Key. I wonder how much they would fine him today? If people weren’t allowed to change songs, we wouldn’t even have The Star-Spangled Banner.

You can gripe about people changing the national anthem all you want. It’s a free country. Singers and musicians can ‘change’ the national anthem all they want…for the same reason.

Otherwise we’d be singing, “…o’er the land of the oppressed…and the home of the music police.”


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