Sunday, January 24, 2010
Risking having my patriotism questioned, I had to mute the singing of The National Anthem for the second NFL game today. The first one was bad enough. The second (both American Idol winners/finalists, so what can you expect) was unlistenable.
I like singing that song. In particular, I like singing the bass line in a crowd, because it sounds good with the melody. Today, both people sang it slowly, as stars usually do, like a dirge. And they added, as usual, their self-indulgent flourishes, as if to say, "It's about me." If I sang it solo at an event, I'd do it about a third faster than most celebrity singers, and I'd do it straight, vanilla, which is how it sounds best.
In a book I wrote, I'm pretty sure I mentioned the best rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner I ever heard (if I didn't I should have.) I was making rounds as an intern in San Francisco, during the National League playoff series. Bending over a patient's bandages, I heard on the TV the clearest, purest, most unfussy and least self-centered version ever. Brilliant, stunning, resonant, a voice strong and like honey and brass. And I looked up to see Linda Ronstadt, to whom I'd barely paid previous attention, standing there in short shorts and a LA Dodgers jacket, dark-haired and beautiful. (I like dark-haired beautiful girls. Married one.) Who the f*ck is that, I wondered, in my internship horniness (I may have asked it out loud, in front of my patient. I hope not.)
I've been a fan ever since. Far as I can tell, there's no record of that performance. The above is a favorite; I used to love "Long long time" but ever since I used it as background of a slideshow I made after the death of a most beautiful niece, I can't listen to it without tearing up. (I changed the music for the show. To the above song, actually.)