Artistic Expression and the National Anthem

I consider myself a patriotic American. I fly an American Flag in my yard. But I do not think that if you chose not to, you are less patriotic. I am a veteran of the United States military. But I do not feel you are less of an American because you chose not to serve, nor do I believe it gives me extra patriotism. I guess I am just an average American when it comes to this stuff.

I am also of a mind that appreciates artists and artistic expression. An artist’s ability to tell a story comes through their expression of that story and how it speaks to them. This sort of expression makes the story, or the music, or the painting come to life. But certain songs do not need any expression; they speak just fine all on their own. The National Anthem of the United States of America is one of those songs.

I am not a big fan of the words of our National Anthem. It has always sounded very war-like to me, and it has to be one of the most challenging songs to sing but, it is the song that represents America. I get it that music and art evolve over time, but some things need to remain as they were; they are the foundation for all the rest. Our National Anthem’s singing for any event should be looked upon as a great honor and should be treated as such. Respect the song.

Before the Super Bowl this past Sunday night, I had not heard of the two musicians who were given the honor of singing the National Anthem. Musically their talent was very apparent, so it is not their ability that I take issue with. I take issue with their interpretation of a song that needs no interpretation.

Many years ago, Whitney Houston walked out the field and sang the National Anthem, and it is still, in my opinion anyway, one of the best performances I have ever heard. She sang it straight, and she respected the song and what it stands for.

A few weeks ago, at the Inauguration, Lady Gaga sang the National Anthem and did a fantastic job. I already mentioned that I am not a big fan of the Anthem’s war-like words, but when she pointed to the flag as she sang, “the flag was still there,” it sent chills up my spine. With the sing action of pointing to the flag, she reminded us of the importance of symbols and why they matter. She sang it straight, and she respected the song and what it stands for.

I am sure many of you will disagree with me, which is fine; I do not think you are any less patriotic or any less an American because of that belief. I just think that a song of that importance, a song with so much meaning written into it, should just be sung the way it was written.

Express yourself in the half-time show but leave the Anthem alone.

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