May 21, 2013

The Second Most Sung Song In The USA

By Paul Bieber

Let’s find the first, first. Some web sites say it is “Twist” by Chubby Checker, others say it is “Imagine” by John Lennon. According to ASCAP, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the most sung song is: (drum roll please) “Happy Birthday”. The third song brings tears to my eyes every time I sing it; “Take Me Out To The Ball Game”, written in 1908.

By now you have realized this is one of the columns that doesn’t have much to do with the glass industry. So if all you care about is glass, hit the go-back button on your keyboard. But, if you are just chomping at the bit to learn what the second most sung song is, and why I am writing about it, read on.

Another drum roll please….The second most sung song in the USA is “The Star Spangled Banner”, which originated as a poem by Francis Scott Key during the war of 1812, when he witnessed a flag raised in Baltimore harbor, signifying that the Americans had survived a strong bombardment from the English navy.

Why am I writing about this?  Because on Friday I was at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC., and saw the actual flag that flew that morning.  Yes, the very same flag that Francis Scott Key saw with the “Dawn’s Early Light”.  Elaine and I are in Washington visiting our kids, who both happen to live and work in Washington, and we had a chance to play tourist.

After Key wrote the poem, he attached the words to an existing British song that fit the meter of his words.  It grew in popularity until Herbert Hoover signed the bill on 3/3/1931, making this song the official anthem of the United States.  The flag was huge by standards of that day, at 30 feet by 42 feet, all hand sewn by four women.  The flag had 15 stars, at 2 feet in diameter, and fifteen stripes, on for each state in the Union at that time.  The owners of the flag realized they had an important national icon and tried to preserve it as well as they could.  Snippets of the flag were cut and handed out to politicians of the day and one whole star is missing.  The flag is now only 30 feet by 34 feet, but still looks great. 

The flag is displayed in a special glass enclosed room, under very low-light conditions.  I couldn’t tell what the glass was, but I am betting on heavy lami.

On Saturday evening I attended an event at the Washington Nationals Baseball Park, and as it began we stood and sang the Star Spangled Banner.  I was never more proud in my life of this song.