February 3, 2016
Super Bowl 50, the 2016 version, is history. For me, the game itself was uneventful. It was a defensive battle that disappointed those of us who wished to truly see the passing of the torch.
The torch, of course, was the expected performances of one great quarterback in perhaps his last game and a young gun who possibly will inherit his mantle of greatness.
It was Peyton Manning at the helm of the victorious Denver Broncos and the reigning MVP, Cam Newton, of the Carolina Panthers who suffered the loss. It was a game marred by too many penalties, fumbles, interceptions and assorted miscues.
The commercials which all of us, glued to the TV set, thought would be terrific, for the most part turned out to be filled with duds. If I thought I was disappointed, imagine how the sponsors felt who had shelled out millions of dollars for seconds worth of exposure.
As for the Halftime Show which everyone raved about, I thought it was overkill. The performances by Beyonce and Bruno Mars with their music and the choreography were magnificent. Coldplay, at least to me, did not live up to expectations.
Maybe, I am a purist … and I guess I am. I like the days when the Halftime Shows featured Marching Bands, Card Sections and formations all directly related to the game itself. The game was the show!
Furthermore, the Halftime Show should never be used as a political platform for any cause…no matter how worthy it might be. Unless, of course, the entire event is for the purpose of calling attention to the cause.
It is wrong to take advantage of those who paid a lot of money to see the game and to impose a social cause message on an unsuspecting viewing audience… as I wrote above, no matter what the cause might be.
But there was one highlight that I found thrilling. It was when Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known as “Lady Gaga”, sang the Star Spangled Banner… the National Anthem. It was stirring and it made a song that most musicians fear singing into something special. It is difficult because of the key changes, but she made it sound like one for the ages.
Her rendition was brilliant. Only once before has there been such an inspirational rendering. The late Whitney Houston did it. However, you can ask any singer, if when asked to perform the Star Spangle Banner, how they tried everything to sing any other song… Either “God Bless America”, or Kathryn Lee Bates’ “America the Beautiful”.
The key constantly changes, the words can only be sung without error when you are singing in conjunction with others and watching their lip movements. The late great singer Robert Goulet would readily attest to that. He forgot the words in front of an audience of millions.
The song has been the graveyard for many a noted singer. Especially, when trying to reach the awkwardly, almost unreachable high notes. However, Lady Gaga handled it with ease.
Back in 1977, along with the late Andy Williams we tried to get the National Anthem changed to “America the Beautiful” Have you ever really listened to the lyrics of both songs.
The Star Spangled Banner, a song of war,— “Bombs Bursting Air” etc;, or “America the Beautiful” that is a song of peace and tranquility… “it’s Purple Mountains Majesty”, and “ for Patriots’ Dream” and “Thine Alabaster Cities Gleam”.
It is a song of pride about a nation built by Pilgrims from everywhere. It is melodically pleasing to the ear and easy to sing.
The Star Spangled Banner became our National Anthem by a congressional resolution in 1931, the year I was born. However, until I was in the 8th grade, we were still singing “Hail Columbia”, or “My Country ‘tis of Thee” the latter melody was identical to “God Save the Queen which is the British National Anthem, as we pledged our allegiance to the flag every morning.
Prior to becoming officially our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner was a popular drinking song sung in many Pubs, especially throughout Maryland after the Battle of Fort McHenry. With a range of one octave and one fifth (a semitone more than an octave and a half), it is difficult to sing.
Andy and myself in 1977, presented to House Speaker “Tip” O’Neill, a petition signed by 30,000 citizens, to a great extent, musicians, to change the National Anthem. He brought the petition to committee , where it was soundly defeated.
However, to hear Lady GaGa sing it, gave new meaning to beauty in a voice. When praised about her performance, she simply said: “I just sang from my heart”.
Thank you, Lady Gaga… you have earned not only my respect and admiration, but also, I am now your fan for life.