BOSTON (CBS) – So I’m holding this séance the other night (nothing much on my DVR) and who happens to come through but the late great Francis Scott Key? OK, maybe not so great in the view of most. He’s that lawyer from Baltimore who happened to catch wind of a raging battle during the War of 1812 in the good old days when wars had numbers not names. T’was a battle the good guys (us early Americans) lost big time. Francis put memorable lyrics to an old English drinking dirge and voila, the world’s toughest anthem to vocalize was born. Unlike “America the Beautiful” which most agree trumps it in every way, “The Star Spangled Banner” recalls the sweetness of deadly rockets and cannonballs that tend to ruin one’s day. No amber waves of much but blood, guts and wrecked property. Still it is a national tradition and no one has any firm plans to drop it down from number one on the country’s play list.
So Attorney Key shows up from the vast beyond and he is a bit ticked off. Apparently, those heavenly beings on the ethereal plain are subject to the same nonsensical headlines as we mortals. The shocking lead story everywhere this past week had nothing to do with terrorism, the deficit, or which moronic athlete is spilling his guts to Oprah and/or Katie. This past week it was all about THE song and the lady who sang or faked a performance of it at the president’s inauguration.
America’s sweetheart Beyoncé, with curves as majestic as them purple mountains, has now been dubbed America’s phony Beyoncé. All because she apparently, allegedly, appallingly chose to let the recording she made of the Star Spangled Banner do the heavy lifting on that bitterly cold day. “Frankie-S” as he likes to be called (we bonded having tipped back a few cold ales during the séance, yes ghosts do imbibe) with me that his is one of the toughest songs for anyone to master. With those chilly temps and a brisk gale wind off the Capitol dome Beyoncé could have easily tumbled over her own fiscal cliff and been scarred for life. What is the big fuss all about? She didn’t “Milli-Vanilli” the thing; what we heard was the star herself singing the red, white and blue out of that song. She merely recorded it as a necessary precaution the day before. Standard operating procedure at major public events—ask the head of any large venue such as an arena, ball park, or convention center. Over a billion people were watching on January 21st; why take any chances?
Sad, isn’t it, that the nation’s media spend days leading with such a non-story when the most important story — Subway Restaurant foot-long sandwiches don’t measure the full twelve inches— is relegated to below the fold.
Before composer Key gathered up his ectoplasm now bloated with ale to head back to the mysterious beyond, he paused a moment to reflect. “I wrote the lyrics on the bow of some rickety ship surrounded by cannonballs, fire, and a ton of smoke. Over the centuries The Anthem has stood the test and fought back a lot of attacks. The song will survive this latest barrage. I’ll give proof through the night that the Beyoncé story will ultimately not amount to much.”
“I’m glad you’re not taking this as seriously as so many down here on earth are,” I responded as the composer’s form began to fade drifting upwards through the ceiling tiles.
“Hey, if we could live through that terrorist Roseanne Barr and what she pulled a few years back, we can handle anything.”
With that Francis Scott Key evaporated fully but the melody, as they say, lingers on. I am ready to move on.
Time to break out my ruler to measure a foot-long Subway sandwich for myself. It’s certainly a more worthy endeavor than asking was Beyoncé live or on Memorex. Memorex? As if anyone reading this remembers analog recording tape.