Did Beyonce lip sync “The Star Spangled Banner” at Monday’s inauguration of President Obama? She may have, because the National Anthem is at best difficult to sing, and at worst can ruin a singer’s reputation, especially if she is singing it in front of more than 800,000 people live, not to mention many millions watching on television. Beyonce is a professional entertainer, and a good one. She knows what she has to do to make her performances entertaining.
This very good singer’s having to resort to prerecording her performance is just another reason why “The Star Spangled Banner” should be shelved as the National Anthem, and another song substituted.
“The Star Spangled Banner” is a war poem set to the music of a British drinking song. Which is ironic when you consider it was the British whose rockets were making the red glare, and whose bombs were bursting in air.
“My Country ’tis of Thee” is a much more sing-able melody, if we are going to borrow from the Brits. It is the melody of “God Save the Queen (or King),” which is the British National Anthem.
Then there is “America, the Beautiful” (“Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain ...”), written by a couple of Americans. The words were penned by Katharine Lee Bates and the music was composed by Samuel A. Ward. You don’t have to be an opera singer or a lip syncer to handle that one.
And there’s this stirring chorus to John Philip Souza’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” that would make a great National Anthem:
Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.