I understand the purists who think The Star Spangled Banner should always be performed in a traditional way. It feels disrespectful to make the national anthem your own.
I get it, but I don't agree. Isn't that what makes our country great? Not great again, but great now and always. We make this country our own. We vote. We protest. We argue ideas. We sign petitions. We swamp our elected officials with calls and emails and faxes from our smartphones. Our Constitution makes it clear that this is not an armchair democracy. This land is our land and we have a say in how we live our lives. We have a say, as long as we let our voices be heard. What makes me proudest is our right as Americans to speak freely. If Fergie wants to interpret our national anthem in an overtly sexy way, why not? Isn't our country fraught with sexual tension? Isn't the #metoo movement a modern day battle of the sexes? Maybe Fergie was trying to make a point.
That's what's so beautiful about art. When it points something out you might have missed on your own. You look at it, you read it, you hear it and you shake your head and you say yes.
Here's a big yes of a song. It's my favorite version of our national anthem. It's as if you can actually hear the bombs bursting in air. You're witnessing history. You're there, hanging out with Francis Scott Key. On a hill. At the battle. Witnessing men killing each other over ideas. You're in the audience at Woodstock. Protesting our country's "conflict" with Vietnam.
The amazing thing about Hendrix's version is how relevant it is today. It's as if you can actually hear the AR15 bullets bursting through the atmosphere of our kids' schools.