Is it time to change America’s national anthem?

Francis Scott Key wrote his homage to the American flag -- “The Star-Spangled Banner” – in 1814, after he watched Fort McHenry, on Baltimore Harbor, rebuff a British attack. The bombardment was ferocious, but in the morning, the American flag, with its fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, was still proudly waving over the fort.

Key wrote only the words. The music came from a British song entitled “To Anacreon in Heaven.” The melody is extremely challenging, for it has 19 semitones, as well as that appalling high “C.” It makes sense that “To Anacreon in Heaven” was a drinking song, because it takes liquid courage for many to attempt that melody.

Nevertheless, the music is rousing and, when paired with Key’s breathless homage to our flag, it soon became a popular patriotic song in America. There was, after all, something quintessentially American about singing to a flag, not a king.

It wasn’t until 1931, though, that Congress passed a resolution making “The Star-Spangled Banner” America’s national anthem. People have complained about it ever since. Even in 1931, many people argued in favor of the prayerful “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” (rejected because it was set to the tune of “God Save the King/Queen”) or “America the Beautiful” (rejected for no good reason whatsoever).

Over the years, many singers have stumbled when attempting “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Perhaps the most infamous failure was Roseanne Barr’s tuneless, crotch-grabbing version in 1990 (something I doubt the newly conservative Barr would ever dream of doing today):

There were other memorable musical massacres. In 2018, Fergie got a little too creative, making love to the microphone for a version that appeared to be a parody, not a performance:

Much as I find listening to the National Anthem stirring, it’s a tough song. So, yeah, I’m open to a change.

But when the leftists talk about changing our anthem, they demand change for the wrong reason and envision something much worse to take its place:

Last week, protesters in San Francisco toppled a statue of the song’s composer, Francis Scott Key, a known slaveholder who once said that African Americans were “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.” This week, Liana Morales, an Afro-Latinx student at New York’s Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts, refused to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at her virtual graduation ceremony, explaining to the Wall Street Journal, “With everything that’s happening, if I stand there and sing it, I’m being complicit to a system that has oppressed people of color.”

We don’t remember the composer or the song for slavery. Instead, we remember both because of a stirring homage to our nation’s symbol. But that’s not how leftists think. Instead, it’s always about Trump being evil. (And yes, I meant to type Trump” there because, in leftist land, everything is about Trump.) So it is that one of the main movers behind the proposed anthem change, “activist and journalist Kevin Powell,” manages to tie the song’s evil to our current president:

“‘The Star-Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key, who was literally born into a wealthy, slave-holding family in Maryland,” explains Powell. “He was a very well-to-do lawyer in Washington, D.C., and eventually became very close to President Andrew Jackson, who was the Donald Trump of his time, which means that there was a lot of hate and violence and division.

You really need to go to the linked article to understand the racist filter that informs Powell’s every thought. Powell proposes, instead, John Lennon’s “Imagine.” He seems a little on unclear about the fact that a song that is supposed to represent a nation shouldn’t have the lyric “Imagine there’s no countries.” And to the extent Lennon was going through his communist phase when he wrote the song, it really seems like the wrong anthem for America.

Another proposed choice is “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is considered the black national anthem. It’s a beautiful song, but it’s unclear why anyone thinks it’s a good idea to turn the black national anthem into a generic American song.

I’ve long thought that “America the Beautiful” is a better song. It speaks of our nation with reverence, and the line “crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea” is a perfect response to the madness overtaking America today.

(The image for this post is an 1873 photograph of the original star-spangled banner that flew over Fort McHenry in 1814.)