Monday, May 3, 2010

Messmerizing the National Anthem

I've been to so many games at Wrigley that I pretty much have the timing down to know exactly how long it takes to get from my couch to my seat, and thus perfectly timing my arrival with the Cubs taking the field.  This may not exactly be a skill that would ever qualify me for superhero status, but it sure comes in handy.

It's nice not having to sit through all the bullshit corporately sponsored "awards" like the Tru-Value Hustle & Bustle Award in Tuesday Afternoon Games Versus the Pirates or the Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence being presented to players than can clearly care less.

I don't have to watch the twelve ceremonial first pitches being thrown out by the Marketing Directors of the Cubs' various sponsors or celebrities pimping their new movies, books, or drug-rehab reality shows.  I don't have to feign enjoyment of the introduction of the photogenic little kids dubbed Fans of the Game or Ceremonial Batboy and Batgirl because they agree to wear some Cubs gear plastered with corporate logos.

It also means that I often miss the singing of the Star Spangled Banner and that is usually a good thing.

I don't know when it happened and I don't know why it happened, but somewhere along the line, the singing of the Star Spangled Banner stopped being about remembering our fortunes to live in a country with freedoms that allow me to write a snarky post about terrible singing of the National Anthem, and started being a vanity exercise to show off vocal talent as if it were possible that Simon Cowell would bound out of a dugout with a recording contract.

Sometimes the results are impressive, yet overwrought and self-aggrandizing:

Sometimes the person is clearly over-reaching their own talent and trying to make up for it with a bunch of extraneous notes that surely make Francis Scott Key role in his grave:

Sometimes celebrities show why they did not get famous for their singing talents and why they should never ever be allowed to sing even in the privacy of their own showers:

Sometimes celebrities try to remake the song in their own style to the point where you wonder how they ever got famous for their musical talent:

Sometimes times they'll just have a bunch of kids belt it out because everyone loves kids:

These days, when it is time to "honor America," you never know what sort of train wreck you are going to get.  Forgotten words, terrible harmonizations, unrecognizable melodies, and a hideous amalgamation of  them all are far too common.  Sometimes it is enough to make me question my appreciation of this country. 

Today, however, I got to my seat a little early and got treated to a rendition I can never really hear enough:

Thanks for keeping the dignity in our National Anthem, Wayne.


Keith said...

berselius said...

Messmer is one of the best. IIRC on Sundays his wife usually joins him, and she's pretty good too.

One thing I was always jealous of as a kid was the fact that the Yankees always got opera singers to sing the anthem, and they always knocked it out of the park. I just assumed that opera singers only lived in New York (dying laughing). It's too bad Ronan Tynan turned out to be a racist ass.

Also, God Bless America is a shitty song that does not belong at the ballpark.

Aisle 424 said...

Keith: that is one of my favorite clips from the Simpsons and one I recall almost every time it isn't Wayne singing it. I love that Lisa is the only one who stays at attention the whole time.

I also agree with Berselius that Wayne and his wife singing together is great too. I haven't seen them duet in awhile, but like I mentioned, I'm ususally not there for the Anthem much anymore. I've grown weary of God Bless America as well. It's kind of the Go Cubs Go of patriotic songs. It isn't very good, but it's easy and everyone knows the words.

berselius said...

If you're going to bust out another patriotic song, America the Beautiful is a much better song in lyrics and musical composition anyway. And it doesn't have all the underlying America = God's Country stuff that I can't stand.

Aisle 424 said...

Except for the "God shines his grace on thee" part. :)

Ed Nickow said...

I really liked this post, Tim. Not only because I agree about the awful renditions we are forced to endure.

We were at the Blackhawks game Saturday night and I actually listened to the words of "O Canada" ... it's really much better than the Star Spangled Banner. I had been considering a blog post about it, and your entry here has inspired me to get off my ass and actually do it. I hope it's okay to plug it here:

berselius said...

Yeah, O Canada rocks. There's nothing more spine-tingly than hearing a Canadian crowd sing it in a hockey playoff game.

Good point about that line America the Beautiful Tim

Aisle 424 said...

Yeah, the Hawks do it well too. My ear still prefers Wayne, but I know plenty of Hawks fans that might think otherwise and I have no problems with their guy (I don't know his name).

I can even put up with the kids because at least I feel like someone's heart is in the right place even if the kids have no understanding of the words they are singing (poorly). I just don't think it is the proper place to try to pimp out your talents, unlike, say the comments section of another blog.

Pimp away, Ed! Seriously, if you don't follow Ed on Twitter (@thecubsinhaiku), you should. His haiku skills are even snappier than my snark skills and he doesn't have to rely on cursing.

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