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.)


  1. I love Linda.

    It's not country, but she did a great job in The Pirates of Penzance with Kevin Kline. (I love that moviei!) Perfect soprano voice.

    So sorry to hear about your niece.

  2. Sid!! Finally Something we have in common...
    Linda was in my Spank Bank too..and I remember that moment like it was yesterday instead of 32 years ago...
    That was back when she was screwing Jerry Brown, before she got fat and lazy and switched over to Show Tunes...
    and there's a way to make another deposit in your Bank...
    Get MLB network, they rerun complete broadcasts of old Playoff and worldseries games, and if you time it right you can even watch it free for a week...


  3. Damn. Now I have to rethink the whole thing.

  4. If you don't need the video, it was apparently released on a bootleg record (if you can find it)...

    Linda Ronstadt -
    Star Spangled Girl
    "Linda live"
    The Tracks are: One/Lose Again, That'll Be The Day, Blue Bayou, Silver Theads And Golden Needles, Willin', Pititful Me, Desperado, Love me Tender, Three/Simple Man, Simple Dream, Love Is A Rose, Someone To Lay Down Beside Me, Band Introductions, Tumbling Dice/You're No Good, Four/Heart Like A Wheel, Heatwave, Sorrow Lives, Here & Star Spangled Banner (from the World Series Games).
    Musicians on the Star Spangled Girl album: Linda Ronstadt and others.
    Available from Ruthless Rhymes Records/Original release year: 1977

  5. Wow. Fabulous. I'll look for it. Thanks!


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