Yet another professional singer has flubbed the national anthem in front of the entire nation at opening ceremonies for an American sports event. Does this happen in Canada or the UK? Do they accidentally sing “God save our graceless Queen?” Is it a problem with the American language? An opera singer would never sing the wrong lyrics, nor would a member of a choir like MoTab or Harlem Children’s Choir. So what is it about Gen Y pop singers that makes them neglect studying the national anthem when they are expected to sing it?
I’ll admit that when I was young I thought that the lyrics were:
Oh Say, can you see?
By the Dodgerly light
But in my defense, I had only really seen the anthem performed at baseball games and every baseball game was performed, in my young mind, in reverence to the Dodgers. Being born to baseball fans and raised in Southern California, Dodger Stadium was the center of the world, and it was natural that even Revolutionary heroes would pay it homage.
I sang the song over and over again in front of the mirror, imagining myself on the pitchers mound at Dodger Stadium. Being a aspirant writer, I even wrote a story about it. I can’t imagine that someone who wanted to be a rock star didn’t imagine themselves in the same place. Even at low points in baseball’s history, it was still a center of American culture. Rock stars married baseball players. Actors married baseball players. Presidents threw out the first pitch at World Series games. Important businessmen bought baseball teams. And because I knew all those ‘important’ people pay attention to baseball, I learned the lyrics.
I grew up of course, but when did kids stop standing in front of the mirror singing the national anthem? That’s the only thing I can think of that would make a pop star unable to recall the words. They must never have started singing it at all.