Thoughts on the National Anthem
Maybe you've heard: I'll be not only running in the Security 5k at ISC West (sign up now - it's going to be a blast), but I'll also be kicking off the event by singing the National Anthem. Since I agreed to do this yesterday, I've been thinking about it virtually non-stop. First, know that I do, indeed, sing professionally (well, people pay me money to sing) with a band. So it's not crazy that I would offer to do this. I'm going to sing for three hours in front of drunken people tomorrow for St. Patrick's Day, for example. I've performed for more than 300 people at a time on more than one occasion and I've been singing for people for a good 10 years. That's not the problem. No, the problem is that the Star Spangled Banner is a wicked (that's New England slang for "very") hard song to sing. And I know that's cliche, but have you actually tried it? How'd that work out for you? I've been trying it over the past 24 hours and my versions don't suck, but they don't seem to sound each like the other, either. There's about 19 different ways to go about it, between keys, and pacing, and just how big you want to go. So, I've been studying the greats. Have you seen Marvin Gaye at the 1983 NBA All-Star game? It's often held up as the standard bearer. Check it out. It's pretty amazing: The antithesis to this, of course, is Carl Lewis' NBA attempt: For some reason, a full clip doesn't seem to exist on YouTube, but you get the idea. I could bring my guitar and have accompaniment, but then I might wind up sounding like this guy, who by my ear does a pretty good job, but doesn't get a good review from YouTube: Plus, for some reason the words are really hard to remember, probably because they're not in good old American English. I mean, look, even Michael Bolton has forgotten the words: That video's worth it just to see the guard at salute smile when Bolton screws up. Great moment there. So, I'm going to be doing a lot of practicing. Singing that thing with nothing more than a simple PA system, outdoors, at 7:30 a.m. in Vegas is going to be a tough row to hoe (as grampa always said), but I'm going to give it a go. Feel free to sing along. Loudly.