Monday, September 22, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

‘Star-Spangled Banner’ represents America well

decicco column sig

By
From page B1 | July 04, 2014 |

I love my country, but patriotic songs tend to be a nonstarter.

I could never warm to the likes of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” or Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.” I respect someone for believing so passionately that they need to testify, but it smacks of jingoism for me.

But you know what doesn’t bother me and has nationalism in its DNA? Our national anthem.

I can’t count the amount of times I’ve heard “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It seems sort of omnipresent since it is fed to us since before we’re able to speak.

I helped sing it once, as part of a pack of coaches and the public address announcer at a prep football game in 2010. When the taped recording of the school’s band couldn’t be found, I suggested to the announcer that we crowdsource it. It went well, but I’m certain everyone is glad it was not my off-key warble carrying the performance.

That’s how prevalent the song is. Most Americans know it by heart.

That makes it easy to overlook the meaning of the words.

The lyrics are adapted from a Frances Scott Key poem about part of the Battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

Key, a lawyer who moonlighted as a poet, met with British soldiers to orchestrate an exchange of troops on orders from President James Madison. Because Key and his companions learned of the Brits intent to storm Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, they were held captive until the conclusion of the overnight attack.

The poem details Key’s curiosity upon awaking in the morning, wondering if Fort McHenry had fallen to the British.

When focused on the words and not operating on autopilot, Key’s details about checking for the flag’s appearance speak of good old American optimism and pride. He continued to check for the flag throughout the battle, seeing it continue to fly under cover of darkness only thanks to the illumination of weaponry. I imagine the fiery orange glow of exploding munitions giving him quick, shadowy confirmation of the flag’s presence.

As triumphant as the final lines sound, Key intended them as a question: Do we still hold Baltimore? Is the flag still flying? “Does that star-spangled banner yet wave?”

It took a long time for Key’s poem and the tune to which it’s set – a British drinking song from the 18th century named “To Anacreon in Heaven” – to take hold as the patriotic tune it’s known as today. It didn’t even become the nation’s official anthem until 1931.

While there are many memorable renditions, three are almost universally recognized above all others.

Two of the best remembered are Jimi Hendrix’s psychedelic throw down at Woodstock in 1969 and Whitney Houston lip-synching to her own recording at Super Bowl XXV in 1991. They’re interesting for their parallels – both on a colossal stage, both at a time when America was at war.

There’s also Marvin Gaye’s groovy rendition from the 1983 NBA All-Star Game, which somehow manages to change the song’s DNA without stripping its integrity. Although the result was a classic rendition that only Gaye could have delivered, the lead up to the performance was said to be fraught with doubt the famed R&B singer would even show.

Regardless of who is singing, we pause and stand when it’s performed. It’s out of reverence for those who came before us, people who fought for the principles and ideals we celebrate today on July Fourth, the sort of Americans who Key witnessed on that night in 1812.

I like our anthem because while it does hold the promise and hope of American ideals, it isn’t obnoxious in its support of our nation. It isn’t “America Over All.” It doesn’t have Abraham Lincoln riding a bald eagle, toting a semi-automatic rifle and screaming “ ‘Murrica!” in anyone’s face.

No, the way we use it today, Key’s words say, “Hey, people died so that you could sit here and watch this baseball game in peace. Take a second to think about that.”

And if you don’t want to think about that, at least take comfort in the knowledge that the next time you hear the anthem, I probably won’t be the person singing it.

To read more of Nick DeCicco’s blogs, visit http://dailyrepublic.typepad.com/forthoseabouttorock. Follow him on Twitter @ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 7 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • CD BrooksJuly 04, 2014 - 6:00 am

    Two problems with the anthem, how and where it is performed. We have all suffered through some very horrific "interpretations" and frankly, if you're not going to sing it properly, then don't sing it at all. I would prefer sport-appropriate songs and leave the anthem to more somber, meaningful events. Just sayin...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalJuly 04, 2014 - 7:02 am

    CD, if you're down our way today, stop by. Anytime after 3pm. I've got 6 racks of baby backs and 4 dozen chicken legs on the smoker!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJuly 04, 2014 - 7:24 am

    Mr. Practical, wow that's a tough one to pass up! We have another commitment this evening but thank you very much for the invite. We owe you one, we'll catch up soon! :)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • mike gregorJuly 04, 2014 - 9:03 am

    Jimi Hendricks' version is a classic

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tony WadeJuly 04, 2014 - 12:29 pm

    Wonderful column, Nick. Thanks man

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • archieJuly 04, 2014 - 2:52 pm

    I second that, great job.............Murrica!!!!!!! LOL

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FredJuly 04, 2014 - 12:45 pm

    Who can forget (though we would like too) Roseanne Barr singing the National Anthem in 1990...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Vaca Christian hits FM airwaves

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 8 Comments | Gallery

 
Hazmat crew responds to Fairfield after spill Sunday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
SBDC schedules free workshop for small businesses

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Cordelia Rotary to host Senior Center fall dinner

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
CHP offers teen drivers class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Golf tourney to help uninsured children

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 3 Comments

 
Dixon Scottish Games return to Solano

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield teen scouts books

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Local governments schedule meetings

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Master Gardeners schedule annual plant exchange

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Il Fiorello Olive Oil Co. hold butchery class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
American music makes a sweet sound Sunday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
North Bay Pediatrics celebrates anniversary

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B8

Sutter Solano has new leader

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B8

 
Popeye’s seeks Fairfield site

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B8, 11 Comments | Gallery

‘Peter Pan’ earns Elly awards for Missouri Street Theatre

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A11, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
.

US / World

Some California wells run dry amid drought

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 3 Comments

 
More drought forecast next year across West

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

32 structures destroyed in California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Crews cleaning fuel spill in San Francisco Bay

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Police say rifle carried by ambush suspect found

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Gov. Brown signs clean-air vehicle legislation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 5 Comments

Feds censure local police, yet give lethal weapons

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Melted glacier sends miles of mud down Mt. Shasta

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Sierra Leone concludes nationwide Ebola lockdown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
2016 may loom, but Jeb Bush is focused on business

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

China, US, India push world carbon emissions up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
New Afghan president, but vote totals kept secret

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Del. authorities: Bus overturns, at least 1 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
NASA’s Maven explorer arrives at Mars after year

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

North Korea powerful temptation for some Americans

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Craig Ferguson plays it loose with new game show

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

‘Maze Runner’ races past ‘Tombstones’ with $32.5M

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
.

Opinion

 
Question of the week: Will the drought end this year?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Idealists made mess of 20th century

By Jack Batson | From Page: A8, 5 Comments

Thanks go out to Telstar Instruments

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Sept. 22, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Ned’s drinking is ruining our parents’ business, health

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 22, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

Horoscopes: Sept. 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

.

Sports

 
Giants swept by Padres; fall 4 ½ behind Dodgers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Stanton leads Cardinals past 49ers 23-14

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Donaldson’s walk-off HR powers A’s past Phillies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Penalty nixes Raiders rally, Patriots win 16-9

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
NFL roundup: Cowboys erase 21-point deficit, beat Rams 34-31

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Armijo boys run to 2nd-place finish in Irvine

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Hamilton wins in Singapore, takes F1 title lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Ex-Titans kicker Bironas killed in car crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Seahawks hold off Broncos 26-20 in overtime

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Hur pulls away for LPGA Tour win in Alabama

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
Logano wins at New Hampshire in 2nd Chase race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

.

Business

 
Native Americans getting final settlement payments

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

5 ways to protect yourself from data breaches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Baldo Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Beetle Bailey Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C. Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Word Sleuth Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Bridge Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7