Sunday, September 1, 2013

"...His First Hit Was 'It's Only Make Believe'....In This Case, Though, There's No Make Believe Involved...."

(SPOILER ALERT: Shameless name dropping ahead.)

Harold Jenkins was born eighty years ago today.

And sometime in the late 1950's, Harold decided that his name didn't have the zip and zing that would be required to make it household, so, as urban legend goes, he looked at a road map and borrowed the names of two towns, one in Arkansas, one in Texas.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome....

Conway Twitty.

55 #1 pop and country hits later, a record that lasted until 2006, the name that Harold Jenkins chose to become synonymous with country music is exactly that.

Synonymous with country music.

Lifelong fans of the Nashville persuasion need no listing of Conway's accomplishments.

And those who may not be aware need only take a look at Wikipedia and/or You Tube for a wealth of material.

So, no discography forthcoming in this piece.

Just two sharings.

The first, a song that Conway recorded late in his career, a personal favorite not, to my knowledge, released as a single.

The songwriter in me just appreciated the cleverness of the idea and the style that Conway brought to the interpretation.

And, as a fun value added, the song, recorded almost thirty years ago, features a splendidly arranged and executed back up vocal performance by a young guy who was just getting started, himself, on the path to some fame and fortune on Music Row with a voice that today's country music fans recognize almost immediately.

Vince Gill.


The second sharing....

In the early 1980's, working as a staff writer for a Nashville publishing house, I had the good fortune to work with Conway's daughter Kathy on an album that she was recording.

As a result, we spent some time at Kathy's home in the family compound known as Twitty City.

One early 80's summer day, we were all pool lounging, listening to our own demos on a boom box, when who should appear to say hello but the patriarch of the family.

Conway was cordial and courteous, offering us all brief hellos as he grabbed a hot dog from the grill and prepared to make his exit.

The sound of the demo playing at the moment caught his ear and, quizzically, inquired "who wrote this stuff?"

Determined to find the fine line between credit taking and boasting, I replied, "I did."

He continued listening for a few seconds, alternately paying what looked like equal attention to the beat and the bun, then turned back to me and with a soft smile, said,

"Why aren't you rich?"

Clearly eager to come off cool, but unable to totally avoid expressing my ingrained personality traits, I replied,

"Cause you haven't cut an album of my songs, yet."

Conway gave a little chuckle, took another bite and wished us a pleasant, summer afternoon.

He never did cut an album of my songs.

But he did end up cutting one of them.

And while you have to do some digging to find it, as I did in the search for the video included below, I've never been shy about putting it right up there at the top of the resume of those things I was fortunate enough to accomplish during the songwriting years.

It was never a single.

And never a hit.

But considering that the guy who considered it worth recording was the guy who had chosen, at least, 55 other songs that became number one hits, I counted, and count, that as a major check mark on the list of cool things that have happened in this writer's adventure.

Conway passed away young, just 59.

But, as the old saying goes, the music lives on.

And, in this case, the music living on was written by a guy who was fortunate enough to be at the right pool next to the right grill at the moment Mr. Jenkins got a craving for a hot dog.

Happy birthday, Harold.

And, thanks again, Conway.

Friday, July 19, 2013

"...Well, Of Course, Some Of Their Work Was Crap....And They Managed To Pull It Off With Only Eight Tracks!..."

Found a fun article, courtesy of a Facebook friend.

Thought you might enjoy having a bash. (If you don't know, don't bother reading any further).


There is much about the Beatles that’s easy to love. The ornate pop, the long-haired peaceability, the arguments over which one’s your favorite. Still, lend them your ear and you’ll discover a few duds.
Even a group as talented, and successful, as the Fab Four couldn’t help but round out a handful of albums with what could only charitably be called filler. Heck, they even had a few charttoppers that might qualify. (Yes, we’re looking at you “Hello, Goodbye.”)

In compiling our list of the worst offenders, we tried to stay away from easy targets. So, none of their earliest stuff. No Ringo Starr, either. We also left off experimental verite-rock tracks like “Revolution No. 9,” “You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)” and “What’s The New Mary Jane,” which weren’t really songs per se.
What remains is the stuff that didn’t quite make their hall-of-fame resume — the ones where they took a bad song … and made it worse. Our S. Victor Aaron and Nick DeRiso investigated:
No. 5

Beatles songs themed on the word “long” are bad karma — but more on that in a minute. This syrupy ballad was a favorite for senior proms at least into the 1980s, sending everyone hurtling into morbidly depressive states — and thus permanently halting generations of young men at first base. (Damn you, DJ!) Even at three-and-a-half minutes, it seemed to be overly long and, yes, winding. (Heck, the Beatles damned near fell asleep playing it. Don’t believe us? Just look at the video.) Producer Phil Spector, in a move that McCartney said precipitated the breakup of the Fabs, later came in and added 18 violins, four violas, four cellos, three trumpets, three trombones, two guitars and a choir of 14 women to the song.

Nick DeRiso: McCartney’s showy complaints about the Spector-ization of this track are funny even now, considering how many of his later songs had armies of violins, trumpets, girls, and so on.
S. Victor Aaron: Spector should have gone to jail much sooner for the heavy-handed way he polished this turd of a song. Paul wanted to kick his ass for that, but it’s his own fault for laying this turd in the first place.
Nick DeRiso: Loved Phil’s comeback to this harrumphing: “Paul had no problem picking up the Academy Award for the Let It Be movie soundtrack, nor did he have any problem in using my arrangement of the string and horn and choir parts when he performed it during 25 years of touring on his own. If Paul wants to get into a pissing contest about it, he’s got me mixed up with someone who gives a shit.”
No. 4

Composed for the first globally televised live event via satellite, “All You Need Is Love” has the wafer-thin depth and tinny feel of, well, a TV theme song. It’s perhaps of little surprise to learn that the Beatles didn’t sit down to work on the song until a scant 11 days before the broadcast. Falling back on his penchant for sloganeering, Lennon — who once said “I like slogans. I like advertising. I love the telly” — simply threw out a series of sayings, then gussied it up with effects, including snippets of the French national anthem and their early hit “She Loves You.”

S. Victor Aaron: Everyone tends to give songs from ’67 a pass for the hippy-trippy lyrics but we have to draw a line somewhere and John crossed it: “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done/Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung. Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game/It’s easy.” Yes, it’s easy indeed … to write trite prose. He credited his then-four-year-old-son Julian for inspiring “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” but it wouldn’t have surprised me if young Jules also wrote the words for “All You Need Is Love,” too.
Nick DeRiso: This arrived amid a startlingly uneven period for Lennon, who was just as capable of kaleidoscope brilliance (“A Day In the Life,” “Strawberry Fields Forever”), as he was a number of under-cooked, cliche-riddled throwaways like “Good Morning, Good Morning,” “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” and this overplayed snoozer. Backed up against the wall by a deadline, Lennon followed more than he led — echoing the themes of that summer rather than coming up with something original.
S. Victor Aaron: And then as the song drifted off into lala land, who was being the ass clown mocking their earlier hits? Yeah, that’s right, Paul.
No. 3

Inspired musically by “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,” the final track on Bob Dylan’s celebrated Blonde On Blonde album, this one actually had potential — but the muddled production (was George Martin on a smoke break?) sunk the song. First, Ringo’s too-up-front fills disrupt what little flow the song has, then there’s Harrison’s faint, echoing vocal, and finally a rattling bottle of Blue Nun wine on top of a Leslie speaker cabinet to end things. Maybe this sounded more interesting while baked. It must have.

Nick DeRiso: A wet blanket of a record, it’s as if you’re trapped in a some place dark with a guy who won’t get to the point. Is he in love with some girl? Has he found God? Can he speak the hell up? Everything about it seems claustrophobic, save for Ringo’s smashingly out-of-place fills.
S. Victor Aaron: The tune goes straight to the bottom in the last 30 seconds as George gets freaky and emits “ahhhhhhhh” as the song comes to messy end. But I can relate to him. Every time I hear this song, I want to cover up my ears and yell “ahhhhh” so I can tune it out.
Nick DeRiso: When ever I think I’m completely sick of this song, I think about the interminable sessions. The odd waltz time here forced the self-taught Beatles to go through an astonishing 67 takes to complete the rhythm track. (Talk about long … long … LONG!) That’s about 60 more times than I’ve listened to this song.
No. 2

Nothing like a jaunty little tune about a homicidal maniac to spark up an album, eh? Convinced somehow that this could be a hit anyway, McCartney, and a rotating group of his hapless bandmates, somehow spent three days — three days! — recording this track. “He did everything to make it into a single,” Lennon said years later, “and it never was — and it never could have been.” Bang bang!

S. Victor Aaron: Paul can get awfully damned silly at times but never more than he did here. The original meaning of the term “hammer time” was a story about … ah screw it, it’s not even worth getting into.
Nick DeRiso: When Paul sings the line “writing 50 times, ‘I must not be so-oh-oh-oh,’” he can be heard cracking up — reportedly, because Lennon had mooned him during the previous verse, which ends “so he waits behind.” All of that is funnier than anything that actually happens here. A pothole on the otherwise superlative Abbey Road.
S. Victor Aaron: Give it to Paul, though: This was the first recorded instance that a synthesizer was used in a cringe-inducing song. Awful prog rock owes a huge debt to Macca.
No. 1

Another Harrison clusterfuck. Written while George was bored stiff waiting for his publicist to arrive at a house he was renting on Blue Jay Way in Los Angeles — and it shows. Befitting the times, the tune employs all manner of effects — copious flanging, vocal processing, backwards playbacks fading in and out. None of it distracts from the essential ennui of this deeply uninteresting jetlagged dirge.

S. Victor Aaron: The song is creepy and trippy but not at all in the right ways. George’s voice sounds like it was run through a Leslie speaker by way of a Hammond B-3 and the droning “please don’t be very long” is grating enough. But, no, this had to supplemented by a second droning voice repeating that insipid phrase out of tune.
Nick DeRiso: What bitter irony, the way George keeps repeating the phrase please … don’t … be … long. Too late. This song is the Energizer bunny of bad Beatles songs: It just keeps going and going and going. And going. You feel sorry for those poor bastards playing the cello.
S. Victor Aaron: Psychedelic music, like psychedelic drugs, had good trips and bad trips. This was a trip to musical hell.

Okay, let's skip the predictable apologist and/or advocate approach of defending any or all of these songs.

And let's not debate unnecessarily, agreeing to agree that any kind of list automatically falls into the category of "one man's treasure is another man's trash".

And let me simply offer this.

It's a fun read, if you're a Beatle fan with even a speck of a sense of humor, it's a validating read if you're not a Beatle fan and, in either case, I'd offer you that, if only unintentionally, misses the point of what The Beatles were all about.

Simply put, in the day, they could do no wrong.

Whether or not they should have, rightly or wrongly, been called on it.

When, in hindsight, I think anyone can see/hear their fallibility.

Put another way...

Let's all get back together in forty five years and have a bash at Taylor Swift. (If you don't know, don't bother showing up.)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"The Hero Isn't So Much Unsung, Here, As Unrecognized..."

Old saying.

It's the thought that counts.

More on that in a moment.

I came across this article on written by LZ Granderson.

A young, black, gay man.

And I mention that not to sneak in one last, gasping Paula Deen reference (although, I guess that's exactly what I've done), but, rather, to give you a perspective on the cultural background of the fellow sharing his thoughts.

These thoughts.

LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and was a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary.

(CNN) -- Of all the parts that make up my somewhat quirky life, there are few things that raise a stranger's eyebrows faster than discovering I love country music.

Not a "I like that one song by Lady Antebellum" kind of love for country music either. Mine is a "Barack I would love to join you and Michelle for dinner next Saturday, but you see I have tickets to see Eric Church so ..." kind of love.
When did this love affair begin? January 24, 1988. The night I met Randy Travis.
Back then, it wasn't uncommon for families to gather around the television, and mine had done so that night to watch the American Music Awards. Michael Jackson was receiving a special honor, and Whitney Houston was scheduled to perform. At the time, those two were the most popular singers on the planet but for me, the night belonged to Travis.
I had never heard of him or his mid-tempo ballad "Forever and Ever, Amen" before the show.
Everyone knew who Kenny Rogers was, but usually the only country music you heard in my house was the theme song to the "The Dukes of Hazzard."
But something about the purity of Travis' voice captured me.
And even at the relatively immature age of 16, I found his portrayal of never-ending love so beautifully constructed by the lyrics of "Forever" that to this day, it eclipses almost every other love song I have heard.

In fact, when I put together a brief video asking my better half to marry me, "Forever" was the only song I put on the soundtrack.
That's why I was so sad to hear Travis was in critical condition in a Texas hospital. He was an unlikely voice of my youth. About as unlikely as you could be.
Instead of listening to the latest from L.L. Cool J or Public Enemy, I would go to the record store and play his song "Diggin' Up Bones" over and over again. My friends would snicker and mock the twang in his voice. What they couldn't understand was that the various inflections in Travis' voice were the commas in the stories that he spun. Stories so universal that a white adult man from a small town in North Carolina could touch a skinny black kid in Detroit without ever meeting.
When I'm in the car singing "Forever and Ever, Amen," I imagine someone 1,000 miles away is cranking that song up in the car and for three minutes and 31 seconds, we're connected.
"They say that time can play tricks on a memory,
make people forget things they once knew.
Well, it's easy to see
It's happening to me
I've already forgotten every woman but you..."
Complete strangers can stand silent next to each other in an elevator and not even look each other in the eye. But at a concert, those same strangers could find themselves dancing and singing together like best friends. That's the power of music. And when you've experienced this magical bond with strangers, there is even a greater connection to the artists that provided the vehicle for that bond.
That's why it's hard for to see Travis this way.
We've all watched once-beloved music icons such as Jackson and Houston fall from grace in similar fashion -- ensnared by drug abuse, publicly humiliated, fighting for and sometimes losing their lives.
As Travis lies critically ill in a hospital bed, those of us who count ourselves his fans, pray his story doesn't end in the same way.
But we've watched the declining grip he's had on his life for a handful of years now.
The bitter divorce.
The uncontrollable drinking, the arrests.
And now this. It's just sad.
Because of Travis, I learned Waylon Jennings was the man who sang "The Dukes of Hazzard" theme song.
Because of Travis, I have developed lifelong friendships with some amazing people who work in and perform country music.
Before Travis, I used to think "soul music" had one certain sound.
Because of Travis, I learned that wasn't true.
It's a pretty safe bet that every country music fan appreciates both the personal sentiments expressed on Randy's behalf, as well as the positive things this young fellow has say about country music as a genre'.
Rightly so.
And if there's any nit to be picked with his sharing, it is, admittedly, not a large one.
But, in my humble o, still worthy of said pick.
The impact that Randy's singing had/has on LZ is obvious.
And since LZ is a "civilian", music business wise, it's understandable that he would overlook something that has been, traditionally and unfortunately, eminently overlookable.

In the world of acting, it's expressed like this.

"If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage".

Simply put, if nobody writes, there is nothing to perform.

Laurence Olivier was once lauded as one of the great actors of his generation.


Without the words written by William Shakespeare, however, Olivier's star might have shined just a little less.

The Nashville Song Writers Association, a respected advocacy group looking out for the interests of those who aim to make a living creating catchy tunes and catchy lyrics has a pretty catchy slogan of its own.

"It all begins with a song".

Well, okay, not all that catchy.

But, "if it ain't on the page..." was already taken, so one does what one must.

The point, almost tediously obvious by now, is actors have nothing to act if writers don't write.

And singers have nothing to sing if songwriters don't write.

But, quick, pop quiz.

Who was the star of, say, Raiders of The Lost Ark?


Now, who wrote the script?



Who are Don Schlitz and Paul Overstreet?

Uh, nice try.

But, no, they didn't write the script of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

They wrote a lot of hit songs in Nashville.

One, in fact, titled "Forever and Ever, Amen".

Sung, as it turns out, by a guy who turned LZ Granderson into a country music fan.

Good job, Randy.

And Don.

And Paul.


Monday, April 29, 2013

"...He Stopped Loving Her Today.....They Stopped Paying Attention Years Ago...."

George Jones is dead.

And the tributes, accolades and lauding and magnifying of his glorious country star name began to flow, from the first beat of the news mere moments after the last beat of his heart, like a river of the smooth whiskey that was so much a part of the man's legend.

Given his life accomplishments, both professional and personal, the outpouring of praise was both understandable and, even to the most hardened cynics in the crowd, deserved.

Truth told, though, I feel a little inclination to squirm when I read other's offering up assessments that passionately proclaim George was "the greatest country singer ever" or "the singer by which other singers will always be measured".

But that's not meant as a denigration of the either the gifts he possessed or the manner in which he shared those gifts with country music listeners throughout the years.

I simply instinctively discount the kind of hyperbole that puts any one performer at the head of the line.

There's an apples and oranges thing that comes to mind.

There is one exception to my personal hyperbole rule, though.

And it applies here.

I'll be happy to grant any and all that the passing of George Jones represents the proverbial "end of an era."

With a slight exception to my exception.

Not to split hairs or intentionally annoy and/or irritate.

George Jones died Friday.

The era he most dynamically represented preceded him in death by, at the least, a few years now.

A period in the country music timeline where writing and performing were ends in themselves.

And not just means to the end.

A period in the country music timeline where style mattered less than substance, where gifted writers and musicians and singers collaborated to create their own unique, hopefully tasty, recipes, offering them up to the country music fan with an outward approach that said "friends and neighbors, we'd like to do a little number for you now and we sure hope you enjoy it", but always, lurking just underneath, a gritty, true to the country bone attitude that said, "but like it or not, this is what we do, so if you're looking for something from the cookie cutter, turn off the radio and wander on down to your local bakery."

A period in country music when , as a rule, only the first few notes of a vocalist's tone and timbre were required to recognize and identify that vocalist.

When you heard Patsy Cline, you knew immediately it was Patsy Cline.

When you heard Tammy Wynette, you knew immediately it was Tammy Wynette.

And when you heard George Jones....

...well, the rest, as well as the work, is history.

In fairness, it's naive', at best, to think that any era has been free of its "bandwagon" riders. And it's a mistake to overly romanticize or coat our perspectives of the past with too much "good old days" gloss.

The heydays of Patsy and Tammy and George, et al surely experienced singers who were doing their best to be the "next" Patsy or Tammy or George, et al.

The key difference being that, in those "good old days", very few of those folks kept listeners interest, or their record deals, for very long.

And none of them became the "next".

Put another way, lots of folks putting brush to canvas get their stuff hung on the walls of Holiday Inn's from coast to coast.

Only one Mona Lisa.

Having spent thirty plus years as a writer, producer and studio musician/singer in Nashville, I've heard and seen a lot of country roads country has traveled. These days, in the course of assembling a weekly country music broadcast, I spend, by necessity if not interest, a fair amount of time researching and reviewing pretty much the complete "library" of what's going on in contemporary country music.

Here's what I hear from my seat in the concert hall.

The craftsman's shop has been replaced by the manufacturer's factory.

The goal of making music in hopes of selling product has been replaced by the goal of selling product by means of making music.

The once upon a time studio atmosphere of "what can we all do to make this next song unique" has given way to the atmosphere of "what can we do to make this sound like PLACE THE LATEST TOP TEN HIT TITLE HERE?"  ...

The sweet smell of country cooking has been pretty much overwhelmed by the sweet smell of cookies.

Ready to be cut from the baking sheet.

When the platitudes and tributes currently being offered up include "there'll never be another one like George Jones", those paying that tribute likely don't fully appreciate the irony of the observation.

First of all, obviously, there will never be another one like George Jones.

George was, in every way, shape and sound, one of a kind.

But even if George could be "replicated", it wouldn't happen.

Today's country hopefuls are too busy trying to sound like Blake Shelton.

Or Luke Bryan. Or Carrie Underwood.


One more irony worth noting.

The flood of George Jones music that filled the country radio station playlists from almost the moment the Possum passed.

Country radio stations that, one second prior to that passing, wouldn't have played a George Jones song if they had a gun to their heads.

I suspect that a man of his life experiences had to be blessed with a pretty solid sense of humor.

It couldn't possibly have gotten past him that a hard living, hard singing, hard drinking country music icon like George Jones could have bent so many rules and flirted with the long arm of the law so many times.

Only to come to a place in his career, at the end, where he couldn't get arrested.

"Who's gonna fill his shoes?"

No one.

Those shoes went out of style a while back.

But they'll always be classic.

For that, and for a lot of great music, thanks, George.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Hands Should Be Reaching Out And Not Let Go....Wringing Them Doesn't Accomplish Much......"




Meet the new adjectives.

Same as the old adjectives.

Mindy McCready's suicide is, admittedly and inevitably, all three of the aforementioned.

As is, also admittedly and inevitably, sadly the case, what will follow, at least in the moment, is equally sad, tragic and wasteful.

The dramatization of an already too dramatic life.

Worse still, the romanticising of a life long ill fated because of its immersion in chemical addiction and mental illness.

And that would have been true had Mindy McCready been a platinum selling country singer.

Or a minimum wage convenience store clerk.

The fact that she was, of course, the former as opposed to the latter simply serves as the catalyst for a 1001 nights of gab, gossip and E! True Hollywood Stories.

And throw in that she shot the dog...and herself...on the front porch of the rural house and you've got a script that writes itself.

One can only hope not.

No one asked, so no one need heed any opinon I might offer.

Not that will inhibit my offering it.

Mindy McCready is dead.




And all the Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, maudlin media memorializing and/or salacious sensationalism in the known universe will neither bring her back nor help any one to make any sense out of senselessness.

The real honoring to be done here is obvious.

Say a prayer for her soul.

And let her go.

And let's put some of that regret, concern, sadness, sympathy and even passion to work at making it easier for those struggling with demons to find real, lasting assistance, as opposed to the medicine show/reality show brand.

While making it a lot harder for that same damaged soul to be left alone on a rural porch to shoot the dog.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"...And, At Last Report, Ms. Keys Was Beginning The Ninth Verse...."

And now, a little something from the folder marked "land of the free".
When it comes to celebrity renditions of the national anthem, examples of "what so proudly we hailed" seem a lot less common than examples of "the perilous fight." Just look at the backlash against Alicia Keys' version of the tune before the Super Bowl if you want a good example of bombs bursting in air.
The immediate reaction to her languid and jazz-influenced take on "The Star Spangled Banner" from fellow singers as well as critics seemed almost universally positive. "One of the great renditions," tweeted Elisabeth Hasselbeck. "Yes lawd," gushed Spike Lee, suddenly getting religion. Keys "killed it," declared Idol judge Randy Jackson.

But then the general public had its say... and there were plenty of naysayers to complain that Alicia Keys had somehow betrayed Francis Scott Key.

Suddenly Keys found herself joining a not-so-exclusive club of stars who've been excoriated for tackling The Anthem, whether they were similarly polarizing, a la Christina Aguilera and Beyonce, or universally alienating, a la Steven Tyler and Roseanne Barr.

Reader responses to Yahoo! Music's initial positive coverage of Keys' anthem were more dismissive, or angry, than laudatory. "Stop trying to make the national anthem 'your own'," said one of the most popular reactions on the site. "It's not yours. It's ours collectively. Sing it the way it's supposed to be sung." Later, the same user added, "I never meant to imply she wasn't a great musician or that she butchered the song in any way. I just feel the National Anthem is one song that should be performed the way it was written and artists shouldn't try and use it as an opportunity to top the iTunes charts the next morning."

Within five hours, that diss had 1,098 thumbs-ups on Yahoo!, and only 225 thumbs-down.

Here's two cents (six, adusted for inflation) from the loose change pocket of my frontal lobes.

This song has been the subject of debate for years, not only when Super Bowl comes around, but every time it gets sung at any event of any national prominence.

And in the course of the debate, along with the obvious they say/they say regarding the "license" that singers take with it, we usually hear the familiar rumblings that, both musically and lyrically, Mr. Scott Key's chart topper is much less the ideal choice for the national anthem than would be, say, "America The Beautiful."

Well, to paraphrase John Lennon's observation in "Glass Onion"....'s another clue for you all...

The chances that The Star Spangled Banner will ever be discontinued as the national anthem of the United States of America are less than the chances that the NRA will parade down Broadway in support of any restriction on any weapon at any time.


One thing about the ever changing American is that the ever changing American don't like change.

So much for that.

Meanwhile, as regards the twisted panties that seem to knot up everytime somebody on a stage with a microphone publicly sees by the dawn's early light, let's take another fun, albeit futile, stab at looking at it from a common sense POV.

 "....I just feel the National Anthem is one song that should be performed the way it was written and artists shouldn't try and use it as an opportunity to top the iTunes charts the next morning...."

Dear Yahoo poster, would you please do two things?

One, tell us exactly the way that it was written so that we might honor that request.

Two, please explain the breaking newsworthy phenomenon of your remarkable longevity, given that you were obviously alive and around to see and hear how the anthem was written when Francis first penned it.

In, oh, around 1814.

That aside, though, we would all benefit from some clarification as to your other passionate plea for patriotic presentation...

"Stop trying to make the national anthem 'your own',"

"It's not yours. It's ours collectively. Sing it the way it's supposed to be sung."

Again, I refer you to the two earlier requests.

With this addendum that I'm pretty much sure is valid.

At least, it was the last time I read an eighth grade civics textbook.

Being an American means that we are free to be individuals.

And if that means we want to sing the national anthem in our personal style, then damn the critics and allegro for everyone.

The Borg does things "collectively".

Americans sing the Star Spangled Banner any old way they want.

That's the point of it.