Time to surrender the national anthem

Oh, say, can you see that it's time to retire our national anthem? Really, my fellow Americans, we need a new theme song.

Don't blame Christina Aguilera--she's only the last in a series of sports-venue performers who lost the battle with that unsingable tune and its repugnantly martial lyrics. When doffing your pre-game Dodger cap, are you ever as offended by The Star Spangled Banner's violent sentiment as you were with Groupon's Super Bowl diss of whales and Tibet? What the hell's a rampart, anyway? It's a fort thing, isn't it, and do we really do forts anymore? Do you ever sing this range-defying, war-mongering song anywhere other than a sports event? O'er the loge level we watch the flag so flaccidly hanging, so who are we kidding?

Citizens, let us follow in the melodic tradition of O Canada and Advance Australia Fair. Let us relieve all the professional singers and Girl Scout cookie winners given the anthem honorific only to dishonor themselves and the key of B flat. Let us embrace anthem.2, let us ensure, in the colorful sentiment from the beta anthem's third verse, that their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.

You didn't know there was a third verse? Nobody does, and, really, what's the point of playing our song if we don't know the words to a melody we can't sing anyway? Heaven help the valiant person who essays to sing all four verses lest, in the colorful sentiment from Aguilera, we witness the last reaming.

Americans are singularly committed to torturing singers and sports audiences with a pro forma "Star Spangled Banner" only by habit. The first documented jock performance of this ditty was in 1918 during the seventh-inning stretch of a World Series game between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox, but it wasn't the national anthem then, it was just another in-your-face song of support for the World War I troops overseas. The United States didn't have a national anthem until 1931, when Congress chose an unalloyed musical fist over the equally (French and Indian) war-lusting "Yankee Doodle" and its odd allusions to food and womanizing. That our nation's leaders rejected "America the Beautiful," which also was in the running, was an ominous signal of our future attraction to such vapidly aggressive adventures as monster truck smash-a-thons and "Jersey Shore."

The Star Spangled Banner wasn't routinely inflicted on sports fans until World War II, when we cranked up the military music in patriotic support once again for the troops overseas. I get that. But I do not get the enduring association of that song with sticky stadium floors and the aroma of mustardy hot dogs. I do not get that we pay tribute to ourselves with a song celebrating "the land of the free" that was written by a guy who owned slaves.

Oh, say, can you see the dawn's early light of a new fight song? One that is less fight and more song? Why not invoke our nation's better nature and physical glory instead of its Ultimate Fighting persona? What's wrong with "This Land Is Your Land," "America the Beautiful," or some new tune that people can actually sing and understand, one that does not detract from the games people play, wardrobe malfunctions and the fact that there is no such thing as fish curry in Tibet?


More by Ellen Alperstein:
Magic mountain
The uneven playing field of workers' compensation
Horsing around in Del Mar
Two Jews walk into a Catskills hotel...
Continuing education at the county fair
Previous Native Intelligence story: Where's our 'can do' attitude?

Next Native Intelligence story: Angeleno Datebook- February 10, 2011

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