Replace ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ with ‘Lean on Me’



A contributing writer for the far-left Los Angeles Times let the crazy fly with the demand that the “Star-Spangled Banner” be canceled as our national anthem and replaced with Bill Withers’ 1972 hit “Lean on Me.”

After a lot of psycho-babble about everything wrong with the “Star-Spangled Banner,” how it is problematic, not just because its author, Francis Scott Key, was a slaveholder, but also that suspicious verse (no one sings) — “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave” — that might be racist, we’re finally told, “it’s not an especially American song.”

Oh, okay…

Additionally, “Its lyrics are ornate and Anglophile, with syntax that frustrates the efforts of normal human Americans to follow along — to deduce who or what, exactly, is gleaming and streaming.”

What’s more, the song is “charmless and difficult to sing, which meanders through wan melodic passages en route to a big climactic cry … that defeats 99% of vocalists who attempt it.”

Yes, by all means, like everything else the left touches in America, let’s dumb down the national anthem into something easy to perform and so simplistic no one need to think about what it means.

Which is not a rebuke of “Lean on Me,” a  perfectly lovely song that has nothing to do with country or pride in country…

If you think the op-ed sounds like satire already, wait until you get to the list of reasons why those songs that have already been proposed as national anthem alternates to the “Star-Spangled Banner” are problematic…

John Lennon’s “Imagine” — too British and written by a rich guy.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” — “out of step with the 21st century, with a prim melody redolent of Victorian light opera and a lyric sheet full of antiquated poesy,” which is probably a way of saying, “icky God stuff.”

“God Bless America” — “its uncomplicated patriotism … doesn’t wash in 2020.”

And here’s my favorite…

“This Land Is Your Land” — “Guthrie’s song has its own blind spots: to indigenous Americans, the refrain ‘This land belongs to you and me’ may sound less like an egalitarian vision than a settler-colonialist manifesto.”

Yes, Woody Guthrie is no longer woke enough.

“Nope, none of these songs will do,” we’re told. “At a moment when the United States is in the grip of multiple crises — convulsed by debates over racism and injustice, ravaged by a pandemic, with a crumbling economy and a faltering democracy — the very idea of a national anthem, a hymn to the glory of country, feels like a crude relic, another monument that may warrant tearing down.”

So “Lean on Me,” a feelzzz-good pop hit, a wedding and romantic comedy staple, is our only option:

[I]f the point of a national anthem is to provide …  a reminder in music and words of the ideas and values that this place is supposed to stand for, you could do worse than “Lean on Me.” “You just call on me brother, when you need a hand / We all need somebody to lean on / I just might have a problem that you’ll understand / We all need somebody to lean on.”

When you bolster that sentiment, as Withers does, with some handclaps and a funky bassline, the words ring even truer. It’s a message you could build something on, a pretty solid foundation for a decent society. It can bear the load.

Yeah, handclaps… That’s what the National Anthem is missing: handclaps and a funky bassline.

Why not “Don’t Worry, Be Happy?”

Or ABBA’s “Dancing Queen?”

Would anyone dare kneel during “Walking on Sunshine” or “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” or “My Heart Will Go On?”

Wait, I got it…

And now we come to the real problem with “Lean on Me”…

Bill Withers, who died in March at age 81, is — wait for it, wait for it — problematic.

Domestic violence accusation.

Yep…

So that kills the whole “Lean on Me” idea.

Yep, all we’re asking for with “Lean on Me” is another round of canceling. Yep, all the work involved in tearing down statues, this time of Bill Withers, would eventually have to be repeated… 

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.





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