Thursday, July 3, 2014

Take It Back

It's the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner.  A few memorable versions in the videos below.  Pete Seeger, in this one from Smithsonian Folkways, also giving a brief history of the song (it started out in a tavern ...) before leading the audience to join in,


Jimi Hendrix' historic Woodstock rendition, and during the Vietnam War,


Jose Feliciano's controversial performance at game 5 of the 1968 World Series in Detroit, Michigan,


Marvin Gaye flips it over again at the 1983 NBA All Star game,


The great Aretha Franklin, of course,

Bruce Springsteen in Washington D.C. in 2004, musically transitioning into his searing Born In The U.S.A.,

Wisconsin protesters at the State Capitol in Madison, objecting to Scott Walker's budget on February 26, 2011, and truly standing up for their rights while singing,

There are also the versions where a different song altogether is chosen and defiantly sung, as with Woody Guthrie's classic This Land Is Your Land taken up in video below by Tom Morello at the 2008 DNC "Let Nader Debate" rally in Denver, Colorado,


Yes, there are many others I haven't posted, including the Dixie Chicks in that GW moment at 2003 Superbowl XXXVII, all the great a cappella renditions, jazz, hip hop, Nuestro Himmos, other immigrant versions in Yiddish and French, and now, Aloe Blacc here for the 200th Anniversary.  And tomorrow, or today, depending on your time zone, the nation will also be hearing a probably magnificent John Williams rendition.

Still, the best versions, to me, are sung by the people themselves (like those in Madison) who take the song back in a true act of political (or, in the case of musicians, musical) independence, reminding us what this song really means, on many levels, and who this song and this country is really supposed to belong to. 

So, Happy 4th of July to the People of the United States of America.

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