From the Desk of Garrison Keillor|
A prolific writer, Garrison Keillor is a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and abroad. To the right, you find a selection of articles published since 1989, and a few unpublished pieces.
Sing the national anthem—and try it in the key of G
July 2, 2004
According to a recent Harris Poll, two out of three Americans say they don't know the national anthem. Last spring I went to a convention of the National Association of Music Educators and got to hear them, 3,000 strong, sing "The Star-Spangled Banner," which was rousing and moving and different from what one has come to expect. The difference was that the anthem was sung in G, a good key for most people, and wasn't a vehicle for some aging diva but a terrific piece of music.
All the good folks who've complained about the national anthem over the years—unsingable, full of war imagery—are wrong, wrong, wrong. It's magnificent. And it's not about war. It's about the survival of our flag and all that it stands for. The anthem and the flag do not belong to a particular political agenda. They belong to us all, and so I've been happy to join the music educators in their national campaign to get Americans to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner."
This spring, before every show, I've invited the audience at A Prairie Home Companion to sing it. And they have, gladly. And on that big, resounding "land of the freeeeeeeee," people get really jazzed by it.
Here's a recording of five-thousand people singing the anthem in Guilford, New Hampshire, in June. Listen to it and see what you think.
Thanks, and have a very happy Fourth of July.
— Garrison Keillor
Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).