"Star Spangled Banner, 4-12-93"
Grateful Dead

A couple of years ago, through my bedroom window, I heard a man singing the “Star Spangled Banner” a cappella in a very loud, robust, Jim Nabors sort of way. He was really going for it, all by himself. I thought it was so strange, some neighbor in his apartment whose face I couldn’t see, just the voice drifting over into my window. Fascinated, I listened to him for a while in amusement as he tried to hit all of the notes.

So cut to this week when I was contacted by a roller derby team, the LA Derby Dolls, to sing the National Anthem at their upcoming match in Los Angeles next week. I know the National Anthem of course. (When I was growing up there were mandatory music classes in my public school, thank gods.) The tricky thing about the Anthem is finding the right key to sing it in for your voice. You have to hit the lows of “twilight’s last gleaming” and the highs of “and the rockets’ red glare”. The song is notorious for being a tough one. So now it’s going to be me, in my living room, practicing the National Anthem, a cappella, belting it out, alone. Oh, believe me, the windows will be closed tight, the curtains drawn (to spare my neighbors). I take this stuff seriously.