The Star-Spangled Banner might be my favorite poem ever... Right up there with This Be the Verse and A Red, Red Rose. I can't help but think the fact that most Americans have it carelessly memorized robs us of the true beauty of each word and how they all work together to tell an amazing story. It is more than an American story, it is a human story of struggle and hope. I sometimes wish it had never been put to music.
The music actually existed some 20 years before the poem was written. Ironically, it was a popular British tune. After the Battle of Fort McHenry near Baltimore, during the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key wrote his poem Defense of Fort McHenry. It was later put to the tune of the British song and became what we know as The Star-Spangled Banner.
Today, listening to the melody played on the trumpet to open the San Francisco/Carolina football game - the guy just nailed it! - it struck me how perfectly matched the poem and the music are and how much richer our culture is because the music and the lyrics have been memorized by so many people.
I love nerding out on this today. Sure beats watching football!