inspired by this LA Times piece, which makes a comprehensive case both for "Lean on Me" and against "TSSB"
Bill Withers’ 1972 soul ballad may seem like a curious choice. It has none of the qualities we associate with national anthems. It’s a modest song that puts on no airs. It speaks in plain musical language, without a trace of bombast, in a tidy arrangement that unfolds over a few basic chords. It doesn’t march to a martial beat or rise to grand crescendos. The lyrics hold no pastoral images of fruited plains or oceans white with foam, no high-minded invocations of liberty or God. “Lean on Me” is a deeply American song — but it’s not, explicitly at least, a song about America.
Yet it has long been a kind of national anthem. “Lean on Me” is one of just a handful of songs to have reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts in two different versions. (Withers’ original hit No. 1 in 1972; 15 years later, Club Nouveau took a spunky electro-R&B version to the top of the Hot 100.) It is surely among the most widely sung American songs of the past half-century. It is performed by church choirs, by school choirs, by college a capella groups, by street-corner doo-wop quintets, by YouTube’s bedroom balladeers, by the United States Navy Band. It’s ecumenical, transcending genres and eras and generations and political affiliations. It has been covered by Stevie Wonder and Al Green and Clara Ward, by Jimmy Buffett and Bon Jovi, by Shawn Mendes and Nick Jonas. Jazz pianists have swung it, Imagine Dragons have mauled it. It’s been sung on “Empire” and on “Glee”; it was the theme song to a Morgan Freeman movie called, yes, “Lean on Me.”
It is the kind of song that gets dragged out on heady occasions, to impart a sense of significance and solemnity. It was performed by Mary J. Blige at the Lincoln Memorial, in a concert marking President Obama’s inauguration. Sheryl Crow, Keith Urban, and, I regret to report, Kid Rock, performed it in 2010, on the “Hope for Haiti Now” earthquake relief telethon. Garth Brooks sang it, after a fashion, in a medley with “America the Beautiful,” at a 2011 Kennedy Center gala whose attendees included four former U.S. presidents.
please try to honor the poll options and not get bogged down by whether or not america should exist (in our respective hearts we hold our answers)
|no, we should keep "the star-spangled banner" because it's bad and america deserves it||16|
|no, we should keep "the star-spangled banner" because I think it's good, actually||7|
|no, it should be (suggest song) instead||6|
― k*r*n koltrane (Simon H.), Wednesday, 15 July 2020 14:49 (three weeks ago)