Belting It Out at the Park
one man’s ode to the good ol’ Star Spangled Banner
There have been many legendary sportswriters throughout history. However, not many can claim to have sung our country’s national anthem at a sporting event. Have you seen Frank Deford belting out on the field before a baseball game? Sid Hartman gracing the Target Center court with his dulcet tones? Ron Buckli getting the North-Memorial football crowd revved-up with his rendition of the anthem? While I may not yet have approached the status of “legend” that the aforementioned writers have achieved, one feat for which they can collectively look up to me is the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner at a game.
In addition to churning out this Volume One column and otherwise serving as a radio personality and an area pseudo-mini-celebrity, I sing. I’ve been in organized choirs almost every year of my life since middle school. Naturally, a few years ago, I pondered singing the anthem for the Eau Claire Express, and they signed me up to sing for them before one of their games. Several years and several anthems later, I still haven’t screwed up the words or gotten too pitchy, as Randy Jackson would say.
Singing the national anthem is a critical element of sports in our (or any) culture. Not only does the national anthem give fans the opportunity to pay respect to the home nation of the team involved, but it serves as a launching pad to the commencement of the match.
Since the odds say that you likely never have and never will sing the national anthem during a sporting event, this column will provide insight into the experience. My most recent example involves the 2009 season opener for the Express at Carson Park.
This may be the one song you cannot mangle; after all, the song is about our country. I would be more easily forgiven for mixing-up the words to Happy Birthday than The Star-Spangled Banner. Complicating the matter, the anthem is not the easiest song to sing, between a melody covering one-and-a-half octaves, and lyrics that can be easy to swap (gleaming and streaming, light and fight).