Sunday, November 9, 2008

Why I've Come To Dislike The Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America

I've come to a point in my life where I now dislike The Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America. These were staple songs of just the average patriotism of the average American when I was a kid. The Star Spangled Banner is a tradition before the game of baseball, the national pastime. I grew up fairly conservative, and the national anthem was sung in a conservative way before a game started. Quite often, it was played by the ballpark organ and the crowd sung along as they wanted. In the 80's, the San Francisco Giants often invited odd characters to sing before the game, and they sang the national anthem in odd ways. Some of them butchered both the melody and content. Many San Franciscans approved, cheering wildly at the inappropriate times. I'm not sure if this happened across the country at non-nationally televised games, but it happened here. And not in Oakland, either.

Now, it seems to be a fad to have some "award winning recording star" butcher the song on every occasion. During this World Series, Patti Labelle got up to sing during one game. I had to change a diaper before the game started, and at about two words into it, I cut the sound. I had no idea she incinerated the song until several days later when it was a topic on sports talk radio.

I cringe in embarrassment every time I hear it before a game. I'm usually just on time at a baseball game, which means that I'm in the food or beer line, or maybe restroom, during the anthem. The Giants, ever since 9/11, have taken to playing the anthem on the radio. Not live either, but spliced in between commercial segments. It sounds so fake. I cut to an FM rock station. Then there's the Olympics. I have to hear it played about 83 times. Anything repeated that many times will result in stomach illness. So, mostly out of liking the song as a kid, I've come to dislike it as an adult.

God Bless America has similar problems. It was inserted into the 7th inning stretch by Major League Baseball just after 9/11. Now it's presence has faded to Sunday games only, with the exception that the Yankess still play it every game. If you go to the bathroom during the song, the Yankees' security will throw you out of the stadium forcefully. It doesn't belong in the 7th inning stretch. Take Me Out To The Ballgame does. God Bless America is sung first. This throws the fans off, and it disrupts a hundred year old tradition. It completely takes away from Take Me Out To The Ballgame.

Neither song belongs the way it currently exists. That's why I dislike them now. I don't listen anymore. I avoid them when I can.

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