Nearly 200 years ago, the British navy spent a night bombing Baltimore. They did a really bad job, doing so little damage to the fort protecting the city, it was able to raise its flag the next day.
A lawyer called Francis Scott Key was on one of the British ships that night and wrote a song about it. He probably should have called it, “Isn’t the British navy rubbish?” but instead named it The Star-Spangled Banner.
Later this week, I’m heading to the US to do some research into that very song. And – God knows why – I’m also planning on singing it. In public. In a stadium. Like Whitney Houston. I should probably get my apologies in now!
Saying that, it might not actually be the Star-Spangled Banner I sing if a man called Steve from North Carolina gets his way. He’s currently petitioning the White House to get R Kelly’s classic Ignition (Remix) made the US anthem instead.
Steve has a point. “Obama,” his petition reads, “we ask you to recognize the evolution of this beautiful country and give us an anthem that better suits the glorious nation we have become.
“America has changed since Francis Scott Key penned our anthem. Since then, we have realized that after the show, it’s the afterparty, and after the afterparty, it’s the hotel lobby, and – perhaps most importantly – that around ’bout four, you’ve got to clear the lobby, take it to the room and freak somebody.”
Personally, I think Steve’s picked the wrong tune. Why not Shut Up?
Ok, it’s about R Kelly coming back from throat surgery, but listen to that chorus:
I’m talking to you
Isn’t that really what America needs? The next time Mahmoud Ahmadinejad starts having a go, the entire population could shout it back!
I’ll be posting updates of my trip on Instagram (@asmarshall), so feel free to follow my embarrassment at trying to sing the anthem there. Otherwise I’ll write something when I’m back.