‘America the Beautiful’ makes better anthem

Freedom New Mexico

Another major sporting event, another national anthem conflict. This time it wasn’t some disrespectful leftist butchering “The Star Spangled Banner,” then grabbing her crotch and spitting on the ground as Roseanne Barr did before a baseball game. Instead, it was American rock legend and “American Idol” judge Steven Tyler — a flag-waving conservative Republican.

Tyler sang before at the opening of the NFL’s AFC Championship game on Sunday in Massachusetts, getting a few words wrong and basically screeching notes he could barely hit. It really wasn’t all that bad, and he clearly meant no disrespect, but millions expressed their disappointment. It was the water cooler topic on Monday, right after Americans expressed their delight or disappointment with the outcome of the games.

The Bleacher Report, a major sports publication, said Tyler wouldn’t have made it through the first round of “American Idol” eliminations with his performance.

“This will go down as one of those horrible celebrity renditions of the national anthem,” the publication posted.

Former Idol judge Simon Cowell, who judges music on TV’s “X-Factor,” called Tyler’s singing off key, pitchy and unworthy of first-round acceptance by Idol judges.

Entire blooper features and lists have been made about famous flubs on the national anthem. Among the more recent and prestigious flubs was Christina Aguilera singing the wrong lyrics during the 2010 Super Bowl. Last fall, there was Lauren Alaina’s rendition at the opening of the Detroit Lions-Green Bay Packers game on Thanksgiving. Flustered by the lyrics, Alaina stood silent for about five seconds in the middle of the song and never fully recovered. It seemed like the performance would never end.

Few are even surprised when these disasters occur because they have become so common.

An enormous part of the problem is the song itself. We mean no disrespect to a sacred song that has served as this country’s official anthem since Congress passed a resolution in 1931. But it is time for our Congress to seriously consider whether this should forever remain our anthem. The range of 1 1/2 octaves is notoriously difficult for most mere mortals to sing — even for aging rock stars known best for singing high-pitched tunes. The lyrics are difficult and inspired entirely by one battle fought in the War of 1812.

A clear alternative is “America the Beautiful,” which was written right in Colorado Springs, Colo., after Katharine Lee Bates observed the country from atop Pikes Peak.

Unlike a song that speaks of one important battle, “America the Beautiful” speaks to the fruits of that battle, and others, that have preserved this country as a place of spacious skies, waves of grain, mountain majesties, a fruited plain, brotherhood and God’s grace from sea to shining sea. It is set to a simple and pleasant melody, written by composer and organist Samuel Ward.

Again, we mean no disrespect to our country’s national anthem. But we cannot ignore the fact that few are able to sing it well. That means we see routine hatchet jobs and we never hear tens of thousands of voices, in a packed stadium, singing mostly on pitch in unison and with confidence and clear passion. Most people, knowing they cannot hit the notes, sing alone in a quiet and cautious manner.

Leaders in Congress, please take a serious shot at a new resolution that inaugurates “America the Beautiful” as our national anthem. Aging rock stars will have no trouble hitting the notes or remembering the words. Crowds will belt it from the bleachers. The “Star Spangled Banner” will live on forever as one of our country’s beloved patriot songs.