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check out my favorite renditions of “the star-spangled banner.”  while they might not be how francis envisioned it, each one is unique and memorable in its own way:

marvin gaye @ the nba all star game (1983)

marvin could’ve sung the dictionary and turned it into bedroom music (jessica gomes voice).  if you had any doubts about that before, what he does here with the relatively dry anthem should change your mind.  also pretty sure that this was the only time you’ll hear a soul clap and girls swooning during a national anthem.

jimi hendrix @ woodstock (1969)

when your country’s at war, a national anthem carries a different weight.  jimi fully grasped this at woodstock.  his guitar sang the strife overseas with elongated distortions starting around “perilous fight” and ending with an insertion of “taps.”  it placed a nice emphasis on the words and lost lives that we might take for granted otherwise.

carl lewis @ bulls v. nets game (1993)

uh oh.  now, carl lewis is one of the greatest athletes in history.  undeniable.  however, he also may be one of the worst singers ever.  above is espn’s hilarious recap of his stab at the song (you can listen to a more complete version here).  while the musical end of this was a clear failure, we can still thank him for the unintentional comedy.

whitney houston @ super bowl xxv (1991)

the gold standard for anthem performances.  whitney’s voice was flawlessly joyful.  also, love the visuals of the crowd singing along with her, the soldiers standing at attention and the little flashes in whitney’s smile that said “wow, i’m really killing this right now!”

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happy bday usa! from marvin, jimi, carl & whitney

07/04/12 , , , ,

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