A Modest Proposal

The Star Spangled Banner was adopted as the national anthem in 1931. Over the years there have been suggestions that it be abandoned in favor of other songs. Here is what Wikipedia, the lazy man’s reference has to say:

The Star-Spangled Banner” is the national anthem of the United States. The lyrics come from the “Defence of Fort M’Henry“,[2] a poem written on September 14, 1814, by 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbor during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men’s social club in London. “To Anacreon in Heaven” (or “The Anacreontic Song”), with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States.


With a range of 19 semitones, it is known for being very difficult to sing. Although the poem has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today.

In my own experience, I have to agree with some of the criticism. The tune is beyond the abilities of most people. The fact that the tune was adapted from a British drinking song has amused the British for decades. Most people know some of the lyrics, but few know them all. It is a long song. Think you know the “Star Spangled Banner?” There are actually four stanzas but only one is generally used.

With all that being said, I can’t go along with the LA Times. The Times wants to adopt Bill Withers song, “Lean On Me.” I like Bill Withers and I especially like his rendition of the song. Just not as a national anthem.

Can Anybody Play?

I racked my brain and finally came up with what I regard as a better substitute for a national anthem, “Louie Louie,” by the Kingsmen. Those of a certain age will remember it. For both young and old I include this from U Tube.

My nomination has the advantage of being short. If one doesn’t know the lyrics it is perfectly acceptable to fake it. The tune has a good beat. You can dance to it. What’s not to like?

Write your congress critter. Let’s give “Louie Louie” the recognition it deserves!

It’s tough being a trendsetter!