O say can you see…
That outrageous editorial in the LA Times that argues "Lean On Me" should be our National Anthem?
Don't get me wrong, I love Bill Withers as much as the next guy, but c'mon.
Here's the story from Breitbart News:
A contributing writer for the far-left Los Angeles Times let the crazy fly with the demand that the “Star-Spangled Banner” be canceled as our national anthem and replaced with Bill Withers’ 1972 hit “Lean on Me.”
After a lot of psycho-babble about everything wrong with the “Star-Spangled Banner,” how it is problematic, not just because its author, Francis Scott Key, was a slaveholder, but also that suspicious verse (no one sings) — “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave” — that might be racist, we’re finally told, “it’s not an especially American song.”
Additionally, “Its lyrics are ornate and Anglophile, with syntax that frustrates the efforts of normal human Americans to follow along — to deduce who or what, exactly, is gleaming and streaming.”
What’s more, the song is “charmless and difficult to sing, which meanders through wan melodic passages en route to a big climactic cry … that defeats 99% of vocalists who attempt it.”
Yes, by all means, like everything else the left touches in America, let’s dumb down the national anthem into something easy to perform and so simplistic no one need to think about what it means.
Which is not a rebuke of “Lean on Me,” a perfectly lovely song that has nothing to do with country or pride in country…
If you think the op-ed sounds like satire already, wait until you get to the list of reasons why those songs that have already been proposed as national anthem alternates to the “Star-Spangled Banner” are problematic…
John Lennon’s “Imagine” — too British and written by a rich guy.
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” — “out of step with the 21st century, with a prim melody redolent of Victorian light opera and a lyric sheet full of antiquated poesy,” which is probably a way of saying, “icky God stuff.”
“God Bless America” — “its uncomplicated patriotism … doesn’t wash in 2020.”
And here’s my favorite…
“This Land Is Your Land” — “Guthrie’s song has its own blind spots: to indigenous Americans, the refrain ‘This land belongs to you and me’ may sound less like an egalitarian vision than a settler-colonialist manifesto.”
Yes, Woody Guthrie is no longer woke enough.
“Nope, none of these songs will do,” we’re told. “At a moment when the United States is in the grip of multiple crises — convulsed by debates over racism and injustice, ravaged by a pandemic, with a crumbling economy and a faltering democracy — the very idea of a national anthem, a hymn to the glory of country, feels like a crude relic, another monument that may warrant tearing down.”
So “Lean on Me,” a feelzzz-good pop hit, a wedding and romantic comedy staple, is our only option:
[I]f the point of a national anthem is to provide … a reminder in music and words of the ideas and values that this place is supposed to stand for, you could do worse than “Lean on Me.” “You just call on me brother, when you need a hand / We all need somebody to lean on / I just might have a problem that you’ll understand / We all need somebody to lean on.”
When you bolster that sentiment, as Withers does, with some handclaps and a funky bassline, the words ring even truer. It’s a message you could build something on, a pretty solid foundation for a decent society. It can bear the load."
Here's some more of Jody Rosen's insane suggestion, from The La Times:
Of course, the biggest difference between “Lean on Me” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” is obvious to all who have ears. It’s there in the tolling gospel piano chords and in the bluesy bend of Withers’ vocals. “Lean on Me” is a great piece of popular music, to be specific, a supreme piece of African American pop music — which is to say, it represents the very best of this country. Not only is Black music the finest American thing, the greatest gift that the United States has given to world culture, it is one of the deepest, most truthful repositories of American history, far more honest about the failures and possibilities of the country than the triumphalist official history, which flattens the saga into a procession of Great Men, noble principles, virtuous struggles, adversity overcome, wars won, flags whipping above battlements in the sunrise.
“Lean on Me” holds another history in its bones, from the Middle Passage up to the present day. The song is tuned into the reality that life is hard, that there is pain in the past and in the present. But it holds out hope for the future, if we have the good sense to treat each other kindly. It’s right there in the first lines of the song: “Sometimes in our lives / We all have pain / We all have sorrow / But if we are wise / We know that there’s / Always tomorrow.”
When Major League Baseball begins its coronavirus-shortened 60-game schedule next week, “The Star-Spangled Banner” will be played before the games. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, we will surely see many more athletes taking a knee during the anthem. But for the moment, it seems unlikely that backlash will imperil the song itself. It is certainly farfetched to imagine Congress decommissioning “The Star-Spangled Banner,” let alone voting to replace it with the likes of “Lean on Me.” There are more pressing matters to attend to. The changes we need in this country will come not through symbolic gestures but when laws are changed, when reforms are enacted, when money is thrown at problems.
What’s more, it feels perverse to wish such a fate on “Lean on Me,” a song that is minding its own business and doing just fine as is. Some make the case that our dowdy, gauche old anthem is exactly the right fit: An official national song shouldn’t actually be a good song, and certainly shouldn’t have any trace of hipness about it. Perhaps the degree of difficulty of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a virtue, too. A better song would inspire neither those rare revelatory interpretations — Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, Marvin Gaye at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game, Whitney Houston at Super Bowl XXV — nor the trainwreck caterwauling of Roseanne Barr and Fergie, iconic performances in their own right.
But if the point of a national anthem is to provide a mnemonic, a reminder in music and words of the ideas and values that this place is supposed to stand for, you could do worse than “Lean on Me.” “You just call on me brother, when you need a hand / We all need somebody to lean on / I just might have a problem that you’ll understand / We all need somebody to lean on.”
Do people really pay for this rag?
What does it say about the current state of our country when every generation leading up to this has song their national song with pride.
Black, White, whatever ethnic group, have all sang this song at national events with great pride.
Rosen says "The Star Spangled Banner" is too tough to sing, but I don't care what she says, Roseanne Barr could ruin any song you pay her to sing.