Category Archives: Isaac Asimov

QUESTION: The National Anthem

Isaac Asimov, the great science fiction writer loved the ‘Star=Spangeled Banner.’. All four stanzas. I must admit that I only know the first, second and fourth verse by heart.

Initially, though, one needs to deal with the tune. Not only is it an old English drinking song, but it generates countless complaints from anyone trying to do the difficult melody differently, such as in Spanish.

Back to the lyrics. I know the first one, the second verse confused me, the third verse I hadn’t seen since grade school, and the fourth verse made me a more than a little uneasy. That it came out of the little-understood War of 1812 is an issue. But you tell me:
1. Which verses, other than the first, were you familiar with before?
2. What you think of the poetry of the anthem?
3. What is your favorite version of the song? I’ve always had a bizarre affection for Marvin Gaye’s, which I heard in real time. Rhythmically, it is SO strange.
4. Should the anthem be replaced by something more “singable”, such as “America the Beautiful”? Not calling for it; wouldn’t bother me.

Meanwhile, read the Declaration of Independence today. Preferably aloud.
Answer to the question you didn’t ask: 26. That’s the number of times Bill Withers says “I know” in a row in Ain’t No Sunshine. Bill Withers turns 70 today.