With 2015 now in the record books, a look back shows just how busy and…
Holy cow! Another season of Major League Baseball begins at 7:05 p.m. Sunday, April 5, in Chicago, when the Cubs take on the St. Louis Cardinals.
Before the first crack of the bat, though, fans gathered in Wrigley Field will remove hats, place hands over hearts and hear someone sing the national anthem. Thanks to radio and TV, that same privilege is extended to millions following the balls and strikes in neighborhood taverns and living rooms.
And by the time Major League Baseball ends its regular season in early October, 2,430 star-spangled performances will have come and gone in stadiums across North America.
Some singers will have knocked it out of the park, offering renditions that were both beautiful and emotional. Many will have reached base with versions that neither thrilled nor offended.
Others, sadly, will have struck out swinging: “The Star-Spangled Banner” presents a difficult chore thanks to a melody that covers an octave-and-a-half. Meanwhile, to many Americans, a botched outing is unforgivable.
Indeed, shrill, shrieking or sour attempts to nail those high notes near the end can ruin otherwise good deliveries. Myers groans that he’s still trying to forget a recording of Jennifer Hudson singing “America the Beautiful” for that very reason: “One of the worst things I’ve ever heard,” he says.
Vocalists who change the melody also irk Myers, especially those who wordlessly ride up and down the scales in between the familiar notes.
“The stuff they add is a little disconcerting for my tastes. ‘Riffs’ they call that,” he says.
What about those singers who end on notes other than the root of the chord as written? “Don’t like it! Stop it!”
Despite his appreciation for respectful renditions, Myers understands the underlying problem.
“You really do need a trained voice to sing it, which doesn’t make a lot of sense because it’s the national anthem, right? It should be a song everybody can sing,” he says. “But what it is is a drinking song. ‘To Anacreon in Heaven’ is the original tune. It’s meant to be sung at top volume – loud as hell – and drunk.”
Can local baseball fans expect to hear Myers belting out Francis Scott Key’s lyrics anywhere this summer?
“Never!” he says. “I’m a bass.”