Dear National Anthem Singers: Get It Right or Get Off the Stage

Kelly CrandallSenior Writer INovember 24, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 03:  A general view prior to kickoff during The National Anthem before the Virginia Tech Hokies take on the Florida State Seminoles in the inaugural ACC Championship Game at Alltel Stadium on December 3, 2005 in Jacksonville, Floida. Florida State defeated Virginia Tech 27-22.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Oh, say, can you see,

To those that love NASCAR, there are two important parts to any weekend.

The first is the actual race that everyone has tuned in to see or paid money to attend. The racing is the reason they love and watching NASCAR.

By the dawn’s early light,

But the second most important part of the weekend comes just before the engines fire: the National Anthem.

Before any sporting event, the fans know they will rise to their feet, remove their hats, and salute their country before enjoying their favorite game.

What so proudly we hailed,

Sports fans love America as much as they love their favorite pastime.

The two go hand in hand.

At the twilight’s last gleaming,

Over the years there have been some great renditions of the National Anthem, and of course, there have been some awful ones.

Good being Whitney Houston, LeAnn Rimes, and Mariah Carey.

Whose broad strips and bright stars,

Bad being Hillary Clinton, Christina Aguilera, and Roseanne Barr. Actually, Barr can qualify as downright hideous.

After Jesse McCartney forgot an entire verse of the National Anthem before the Pepsi 500 at California, fans and media alike couldn’t believe it.

Through the perilous fight,

Neither could McCartney.

McCartney wrote on his Twitter page, “Here at the NASCAR race! So much fun! Can’t believe I forgot the words to the Anthem! I’ve performed it 100 times. Bad nerves today I guess.”

O’er the ramparts we watched,

But for viewers, they weren’t guessing when expressing how they weren’t pleased with how McCartney and others have “ruined,” “butchered,” and “disgraced” the National Anthem.

They’ll fight for their drivers as hard as they’ll fight for their country and for a proper National Anthem.

Were so gallantly streaming,

Personal websites and blogs light up after the National Anthem is sung each weekend about whether they approved or not and what other thoughts they have.

Lately, it hasn’t been of approval. NASCAR fans are not messing around when it comes to the National Anthem. You better do it right, or they’ll tell you just how wrong you are.

And the rockets' red glare,

But don’t think that it’s just the National Anthem that you need to worry about.

Fans and media are very observant, and they’ll spot someone that stands out in a crowd for all the wrong reasons.

The bombs bursting in air,

Mostly from what the TV camera caught while showing drivers, crews, and fans or from standing and observing those around them.

It’s not uncommon to see some wives—perfect example being DeLana Harvick—wearing their hats during the National Anthem. Some fans do so as well, and it is not a popular move to others.

Gave proof through the night,

The only people that should be wearing a hat during the singing of the National Anthem are military members.

However, that seems minor compared to the outrage and thoughts on what the National Anthem is all about.

That our flag was still there,

Being in the grandstands during the National Anthem is a one-of-a-kind experience.

Time stands still; thousands of people stand as one and in silence, in what can only be known as a moving experience. The only thing on everyone’s mind is a bigger picture than a shining trophy and checkered flag.

Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,

Many celebrities and public figures have been invited to sing the National Anthem before a NASCAR race, many saying they are big NASCAR fans, but when they get up to sing one of the hardest songs in the country, they can’t pull it off.

At least not to most people’s liking.

O’er the land of the free,

The easiest thing for anyone that is going to be invited to sing the National Anthem at a NASCAR or any sporting event is to remember an important piece of advice: Keep it simple.

As one fan said, a fan that has a bald Eagle and an American Flag wrap that runs down the side of his Ford pickup truck, “Sing it the way it was intended. Keep it simple. I don’t need all these people adding bulls&*%t to it.”

When Francis Scott Key sat down and wrote the song back in 1814, he didn’t have background music. He didn’t have any added spice in mind. He was more concerned with the words he was writing and how important they were.

No one seems to remember that.

No performer remembers that they aren’t supposed to turn it into a country, rap, or hip-hop performance; they aren’t putting on a concert.

They need to remember the strength of the words they are saying, the importance and the meaning of those words, and let that be their performance.

To have the honor to perform a song that is the song for their country is far more important than who they are.

Most importantly, they need to remember, it’s not about them. It’s about the United States of America; it’s about Freedom, and honoring the men and woman who have given them that freedom.

If they can’t remember that, then from now on the only people that should be performing the National Anthem are the ones that it was written for—the military—because they’re the only ones that do it right.

And the home of the brave.