national anthem as expressive individualism

This is a topic I may have mentioned in the past, but nonetheless I feel like raising it.

Last week, as I began watching the Jets-Steelers AFC championship game, I had the “pleasure” of having some likely famous female singer deliver a rendition of the country’s national anthem. The performance – stress on the word performance – was delivered with the general poetic license-driven deviations from the actual text of the military anthem that is “The Star Spangled Banner.” Generally nasally or whiny timbre, fluctuation in tone on random notes, milking the climactic ending phrases for all they’re worth. Not a surprise.

My problem is not with giving a personal interpretation of a song, though I do tend to favor the original version more than any renditions that follow. In fact, I don’t really have a problem here. I’m just noting how this way of singing the national anthem draws attention less to the country that the song holds in esteem as it does the particular performer of that anthem. This is a concrete instance of what Andrew Delbanco in The Real American Dream noted as the shift from glorifying the “nation” to enshrining the “self” that occurred in the United States in the 20th century, especially in the 60’s.

Ok, I do have a problem with that. Never mind. But, I won’t rant about it here. I’m a little self-conscious about angry blogging after seeing Jesse Eisenberg’s rendition of Mark Zuckerberg last night on The Social Network. ‘Tis a bit vain, and so I shall refrain.

Anyways, just thought my Perspectives buddies out there would enjoy that. Do good and avoid evil, friends.

 

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2 Responses to national anthem as expressive individualism

  1. MK says:

    LOVE the Delbanco reference.

  2. PW says:

    Mike, recall the Ignatius-Glenville playoff football game your sophomore year. Glenville was the home team (at Bedford) so had the responsibility of doing the pregame show, including Our National Anthem. The Glenville woman who “sang” the Anthem took so long and embellished it so much that Ignatius grads from the 50s and 60s were literally keeling over and dying in their seats from shock and dismay.

    It’s only gotten worse since then. That’s why it’s important to have home field advantage in the playoffs.

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