Anniversary Post: Defense of Fort McHenry

Francis Scott KeyOn this day in 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem “Defense of Fort McHenry.” The first verse has become the lyrics of our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The tune was the official song of the Anacreontic Society — group of upper class London men who promoted music appreciation and drinking. I’ve never much liked the tune — it’s awkward and formal — hard to sing — boring. I was pleased to learn that it didn’t become the national anthem until 1931 — while still under Herbert Hoover.

As for Key, well, he was a slave owner and anti-abolitionist. At the same time, he wrote a lot of religious poetry. He was a good Episcopalian. It goes back to what I wrote about a week or so ago: there have always been two kinds of Christians in this nation — the liberals and the conservatives. The conservative ones today want to believe that are part of the movement that ended slavery, but they aren’t. They are part of the movement that Francis Scott Key was part of — the part that believed that slavery was Godly. But Key’s predilection does provide an ironic charm to the words, “O’er the land of the free…”

But the main thing for us to consider today is that Key was not a very good poet. I think it is great that people who don’t have much talent write. I think writing is a great thing. But we don’t need to hold such people up as masters of the art. And just a year earlier, Lord Byron wrote, “She Walks in Beauty.” Of course, it may help to be inspired by a beautiful woman in mourning, and not the excitement of the thought that more people on their side are dying than on ours.


See also: Musical Dreck to Commie Propaganda.

3 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: Defense of Fort McHenry

  1. The SSB is real dreck! Hoyt Axton wrote a song called “Country Anthem” that made comments on Christianity and the SSB. I quote – “I’d like to sing our country’s anthem but I can’t seem to make it ring, old Frank Scott the man who wrote it, obviously couldn’t sing.” I believe it was during World War II that it started being played before baseball games for patriotic reasons. And we are still stuck with it.

    • That makes sense: sports are our true religion. The tune isn’t bad as a march. But as something to be sung, it’s horrible.

      • It’s only barely tolerable if you root for the people performing it to do well. Pregame anthem performers, from most to least acceptable:

        Kid orchestras
        Volunteer men’s choir (barbershop quartets, retired drywall installers, etc.)
        Kid chorus groups
        Former players who can sing
        Kid marching bands
        Adult orchestras
        Little-known local rock performers
        Mutisex adult chorus groups (they’re SUPPOSED to sound good, it’s not a surprise if they do)
        Kid fans who won “sing the anthem” audition
        Adult fans who won “sing the anthem” audition
        Military marching bands
        Country radio stars in town for a tour
        Anyone who’s ever been on a singing-contest TV show

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