The weird and complicated history of America’s national anthem

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“The magic of history is that the simple, received wisdom we have turns out to be just one part of the story, and we discover a lot about ourselves when we go deeper into it.” – Mark Clague

In this episode of Deviate, Rolf deep-dives into the Star Spangled Banner, covering topics including the origins and historical backdrop for the writing of Star Spangled Banner (9:20); the irony of using a British melody for the United States national anthem, and the “lost stanzas” of the original poem (23:12); the song’s complicated history, including specific criticisms (35:00); and the evolution of the song in tandem with our national identity (44:00).

This week’s expert, Mark Clague (@usmusicscholar), is a musicology professor at the University of Michigan. He has researched all forms of music in the United States; his recent projects focus on the United States national anthem.

For more information on Mark, please check out his Star Spangled Music website, his Star Spangled Songbook, his Poets & Patriots music compilation, and his podcast.

Notable Links

Mentioned renditions of the Star Spangled Banner

The Deviate theme music comes from the title track of Cedar Van Tassel’s 2017 album Lumber.

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