The longer I am a songwriter, the more I come to understand the reality that there is no one method to songwriting. Some of it is inspired by an experience, some of it comes from a wishing for something not yet found, and sometimes you’re simply frustrated and stumble upon something that in the moment might feel forced, but in the long run it becomes one of your greatest pieces of work.
I wonder if Francis Scott Key ever thought of himself as a songwriter. I wonder if he knew that his witness of an infamous battle in 1814 would become one of the most well known and inspirational patriotic art forms this country has ever known. Sometimes, I wonder why it takes countries so long to understand their identity when they make such clear declarations at their inception...I digress, The Star Spangled Banner is truly one of the most moving musical pieces I have ever heard. Maybe it’s because I’m a sap, and truly do have a deep gratitude for being a part of this great nation, or maybe it’s because it’s just that brilliant of a melody.
I find it most interesting to have discovered that this was not my nations anthem until 1931. Prior to that it seems that My Country ‘Tis Of Thee was the nations chosen paean. It’s amazing to me to look back at history and see how differently things were done. Song writing, for instance, borrowed the melodies of famous bar tunes and applied new lyrics. In today’s world, we would scoff at such a thing, but let’s remember they didn’t have recording devices back then. How else would you get a large number of people to become familiar with a song? Poets had a much more substantial role to play in the days before technology, I imagine.
At any rate, I love The Star Spangled Banner. It always, and I do mean always, brings tears to my eyes to sing it. It stands out to me as something that cuts to the core and reminds each of us that people have sacrificed so much for our modern comforts. It doesn’t matter if it was done perfectly, what matters is that without those struggles, without those sacrifices, we would not be able to have and achieve all that our hearts desire in a nation as free as ours. Thank you, Francis Scott Key & John Stafford Smith. You two may have never met, but you gave us one of the most beautiful songs a country could ever have as its own!
Until next time,
Take care of your hearts & ears.
~Listen With Your Heart~