Star-Spangled Banner: Too American?

The Guardian reports: ‘The Star-Spangled Banner has taken many knocks in its time. It has been labelled unsingable, campaigned against by the United States’s own politicians, and booed across half the Middle East. And now, just weeks before its 200th birthday, it has also started attracting the ire of intellectuals. The anthem is “a nasty piece of work”, according to the Canadian writer Malcolm Gladwell, who picked a bizarrely sexy Marvin Gaye rendition of it for Desert Island Discs, the long-running BBC Radio 4 series in which celebrities introduce the pieces of music that mean the most to them. “They’re blowing stuff up [in it]. This is their national anthem. It’s about rockets and bombs. Do you need better insight into the heart of the American soul?” he said. But perhaps Gladwell himself needs some more insight into the song. When you know its history – or speak to the people who have been most affected by it – you get a different picture.’

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