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Thursday, June 8, 2006

Singing the National Anthem in Los Angeles

Loc3f05214r_1 This isn’t much about property.  In fact, it isn’t at all about property.  But it’s a beautiful June morning and one of my favorite former students sent this along.  So in anticipation of Flag Day and at the risk of being too Ann Althouse-ian (not that such a thing would be bad), I thought I’d pass along a link to Marvin Gaye’s rendition of the National Anthem at the 1983 NBA All Star Game.  Given the recent discussion of what language we should sing the national anthem in, you might enjoy hearing this version.  And here’s a nice article about it, too.

It's a great, great story, which has taken on mythic proportions (there was fear Mr. Gaye wouldn't show up, then that the rendition wouldn't go well and, afterwards, about how he held the audience). It was his last appearance on national television.

One aside here: Mr. Gaye was running late and the officials at the game asked an usher to stand in, which she was happy to do.  That vignette reminds me of one of my heroes, Ralph Ellison.  Mr. Ellison was working away in mostly anonymity until his 1952 novel Invisible Man appeared.  There are many, many talented people out there whose talents we may never know.  We were fortunate to learn of Ellison's talents--but that usher, who might have filled in for Mr. Gaye, remains anonymous.  The most recent example of suddenly (though belatedly) recognized talent that comes to mind is James Carter's rendition of Po Lazarus, which Alan Lomax recorded in Mississippi in 1959.  Lo those many years later, it was used as part of the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou?  And, after some searching, Mr. Carter was located in Chicago, given a big check, and a Grammy.

Endnote: Thanks to our friends at the Library of Congress for providing the image.

UPDATE:  Here's a link to a video of Mr. Gaye singing the "Star Spangled Banner" on youtube.

Alfred L. Brophy
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I was 100 feet from Marvin when he sang the anthem and I wrote a story about my experiences which I posted on my personal website: http://www.toddmintz.com. I was reminded of Ralph Ellison too...you can see that in my story :.)

Posted by: Todd Mintz | Apr 7, 2007 7:08:48 AM

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