Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Play ball!

Somebody named Zooey Deschanel sang the U.S. National Anthem before the fourth game of the World Series the other day. (Great Series, by the way.) Many people were angered that she went for a softer, dare I say gentler, version than the jingoistic bombastia usually presented at these moments. Zooey, according to her critics, must be deeply unpatriotic. (Her version, unfortunately and bizarrely, has been pulled from YouTube and every other source I can think of.)

The dispute reminded me of the greatest triumphalist performance of a National Anthem I’ve ever heard.

Of course, Mireille had much better material to work with. Truly blood-thirsty stuff. The real deal. And it was the 200th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, not the opening of a baseball game.

At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve always wished our anthem was “America the Beautiful.”

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea! 

It’s a tune a normal person can sing. (I’ve always especially loved “purple mountains majesty.”) But I suppose it is sort of unpatriotic in its emphasis on beauty and grace. No rockets. And that very suspicious brotherhood stuff. All the same, let’s hand it off to Keb’ Mo’.

No comments: