From "Below The Beltway":
I’ve lately been listening to dozens of foreign national anthems to try to understand why ours is so bad. I now know ours could be a lot worse.
I began this hideous chore after watching the Super Bowl, where Christina Aguilera performed an electrifying, throaty, sultry, unforgettable butchery of the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” After eliminating the ramparts entirely, she sang — and I quote verbatim — “what so proudly we watched at the twilight’s last reaming.”
Because our anthem is famously difficult, many people gave Christina a pass. I do not. If you pay someone, say, $250,000 to build a house, it is reasonable to expect that the toilets will not empty into the dining room. If you pay someone, say, $250,000 to sing 81 words, it is likewise reasonable to expect her to assemble them in reasonably good order.
Still, even when sung correctly, our anthem is a mess: 15 dangling clauses that seem more or less mix-and- match interchangeable (Oh, say! can you see / through the perilous fight / o’er the land of the free / by the dawn’s early light . . . ), all of it amounting to a single, convoluted question that is then . . . not answered.
Does the flag still wave? As yet undetermined! The answer doesn’t arrive until the second stanza, which no one knows because it is mostly sung in creepy, hyper- patriotic gatherings of, say, ladies who are direct descendants of Cotton Mather, or during secret Masonic initiation rites involving men wearing aprons.
Rest of the column.
I promise we don't sing the second stanza in Masonic lodges in Indiana.
We sing the fourth.