Francis Scott Key has had a long time to turn over in his grave since the lyrics he penned 198 years ago today were put to music.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” has been butchered enough times to raise questions about the sanity of all but those blessed with the truest voices and sharpest memories who risk public shame and humiliation.
But that hasn’t stopped them, even 11-year-old Harper Gruzins, who admitted that her rendition bombed this summer before a nationally televised Major League Soccer match (see other videos below).
Harper felt the wrath of arm-chair critics, while sympathizers recognized the difficulty factor for an 11-year-old attempting a song set to an old English tune.
Mangled lyrics and cracked voices aside, the “Star-Spangled Banner,” written in Baltimore on this date in 1814 as “Defense of Fort McHenry” by Key – a lawyer and amateur poet – is 198 years old.
It didn’t become the official national anthem until 1931, but that’s more than enough time to trample — unintentionally — all over its majesty. Here are some more examples.