There’s been talk lately about changing the national anthem because the song’s lyricist was a slaveholder. Good enough, but, honestly, it should be replaced on its own lack of merit.
First, the song has four verses, though almost nobody knows verses 2-4, and many of those who only know verse 1 don’t even know it that well.
Second, the first verse says nothing about the country, its values, or anything else, really. In fact, all it is is a long-winded rhetorical question:
Can you see the flag this morning? You know, the one we saw last night at sunset. Yeah, the one with the stripes and stars that we cheered about last night. That’s right, the same one we saw lit up by the rockets and bombs all night: is it still waving this morning?
How inspiring: a vision test! My patriotic heart is all a-flutter.
And then there’s the music, which is an almost un-singable (the melody spans an octave and a half) recycled British club song: “The Anacreontic Song” written by John Stafford Smith for an 18th-century amateur musician’s club. What says “America” more than a song celebrating a private men’s club?
It took until the early 1930s before it became the anthem. At that time, Prohibition was in effect, so maybe the national ability to make sound judgments was at a low level because of all the bathtub gin people were drinking, but, in any event, it has only been the anthem for less than a century! Ditching it for something with better content and an easier-to-sing melody is hardly a slap at the Founders of this nation, who had all been long-dead before the song was made the anthem in the first place.
Replace the anthem! Your ears and your vocal cords will thank you!