Nobody ever paid to hear "that song." These were the words I recall my high school band director asserting back in those dark days before the Clone Wars. BW: Before Whitney. Eventually, Whitney Houston makes liars of us all, as she ended up topping the charts with her recording of our National Anthem. She donated all her profits to the Red Cross and children's charities. Ms. Houston, God Rest Her Soul, is the exception that proves the rule. The Star Spangled Banner is a train wreck of a song that tests everyone's patience while we, the faithful, wait patiently for the sporting event which follows momentarily to commence.
There are those who insist on dragging it out, using it as a showcase for their vocal capacity. This makes sense, since it requires more than the standard human's one-octave range, and it has the ironic distinction of having its music lifted from a British drinking song from the previous century. Sure, don't make everyone sit through all four verses of Francis Scott Key's original poem, but depending on the version, it can get a little out of hand. The average time it takes to sing that one verse is a little over one and a half minutes. Whitney ran a whole forty-five seconds longer than that. This may not seem like a lot, but considering it is a fifty percent increase in the amount of time it takes to sit down and commence with the rest of the commencing, it is substantial. This just kicked the door open for artists to make their own mark, and not always in a good way. I'm looking at you, Alicia Keys.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good, stirring patriotic moment as much as the next jaded Democrat, but I'll take a John Phillip Sousa march over a drawn out version of that ode to Fort McHenry any day. It is, after all, a song that is mostly about fire. This was pointed out to me by Laurie Anderson, way back about the time that Whitney was making her version endemic.
Or you could do what Aaron Lewis did at the beginning of game five of this year's World Series. You could just scoot to the end of the tune without anyone else knowing. Well, almost nobody else. That would get us back in our seats extra quick. Of course, what else would you expect from the lead singer of "Staind?"