Jean Leon Gerome,
"The Star-Spangled Banner"
was originally an anthem to this guy...
(.mp3 - first recording ever!) Read
It Here! (w/m, Library of
know that America's national anthem, "The
was written in 1780 by John Stafford Smith, as "To Anacreon In Heaven,"
the constitutional song of the Anacreaontic Society of London, with
words written by Ralph Tomlinson, an early president of the Society.
The Society was a group of mostly amateur musicians, with a sprinkling
of professionals, that met every two weeks at the Crown and Anchor
Tavern in the Strand for a concert followed by a dinner and much
merrymaking thereafter. Each concert was formally opened by this song,
performed by the President and joined by the company on the refrain
lines. The song itself depicts a squabble among the Greek gods, to
which wine-god Bacchus has (is) the solution (literally), and all join
in devotion to "the myrtle of Venus and Bacchus's vine." The Society
finally folded in 1786 due to the dampening influence of the Duchess of
Devonshire who had bought a secret box under the stage, and the
uncertainty of whose presence prevented the members from indulging in
their usual rounds of bawdy songs and ballads.
tune was too good to perish, however, and countless parodies were set
to it both in Britain and in America over the coming two generations,
such as "Adams and Liberty," "Anacreon's Reply," and many more. The
song might still have passed out of existence had it not been for Francis Scott Key's
new set of words penned September 14, 1814, the morning after the
unsuccessful siege of Forth McHenry, at Baltimore, Maryland, by the
British. His poem, "Defense Of Fort McHenry" ("tune: Anacreon In
hit the streets the very next day, and was published the next year with
the music as "The Star-Spangled
Banner," with a slightly-altered
C, the original used F-natural, not the current F#) and it took its
place as the United States' national anthem more than a century later
on March 3, 1931.
was an ancient Greek poet (563-478 BC) whose many poems
about the pleasures of wine and its results earned him the reputation
as the bard of the grape. He is reputed to have died at the ripe old
age of 86 from, appropriately, choking on a grape seed...
a new Spanish translation
of "The Star-Spangled Banner" has caused waves among American
English-language purists who insist that the original words in the
original language are sacrosanct. Alas, few of them know that the
original words aren't, in fact, the original words at all. Worse, the
tune itself may not even be Anglo in origin, as John Stafford Smith is
thought by some to have lifted it from a military song by...the French!!!
painting of Anacreon (above) is by Jean Leon Gerome,
and the recording is performed by John Townley from The
Top Hits Of 1776 on Adelphi
Note: To see and listen to the
complete Top Hits
Of 1776 album, click here...