The United States National Anthem is one of the most iconic pieces of music recognized across the country. The Star-Spangled Banner is performed before most public sporting events and activities, most commonly by a solo vocalist. For special occasions you’ll hear an accompaniment by a small ensemble and sometimes even a snare drum and crash cymbals. I’d like to put forward something a little different that I don’t believe has been performed as of the time of writing – The United States National Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner Snare Drum Solo.
Did you know that the music for the Star Spangled Banner was actually taken from a British pub song patrons would sing while drunk? It’s true, the melody was taken from the British song called ‘To Anacreon in Heaven’ written by John Stafford Smith way back in 1778. Francis Scott Key would much later write the lyrics as a poem in 1814 and with a contrafactum the two were entwined together. Key was a lawyer and also a slave owner from Maryland and he quite often prosecuted abolitionists. Key was also a leader of the American Colonization Society which was intent on preserving slavery. He referred to black people as “a distinct and inferior race of people” which shows in the third verse of his lyrics above reading, “their blood has washed out of their foul footsteps pollution. No refuge could save their hireling slave. From the terror of flight or gloom of the grave.” Slaves thought they were fighting for their freedom during the war of 1812, but in this verse Key insinuates that slaves would not win whether the British wiped them out to save white Americans or not. This is a good reason why nobody performs the full Star Spangled Banner at sports events or gatherings, it comes from a place of racism. Please take this all into account when you go back and relook at the above snare drum solo. I hope the purpose of this parody of the American National Anthem above isn’t lost on you now. And next time you hear this song maybe you’ll remind yourself of the racist overtones the lyrics were created with or perhaps just the ironic jubilous British pub song they were attached to after a war fought against them.