This is a folk version of the American national anthem performed and arranged by Canadian (but US permanent resident) singer-songwriter Kevin Cryderman. While the music here is very different than the standard anthem tune of John Stafford Smith's "Anacreontic Song" (an English drinking song), the lyric is still Francis Scott Key's poem "The Defense of Fort McHenry" which, set to Smith's tune, officially become the USA national anthem by Woodrow Wilson's executive order in 1916 and then by congressional order in 1931 under Herbert Hoover. Rather than the standard tune, Cryderman's melody and aesthetic loosely evoke Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin,'" which itself was based on various Irish and Scottish ballads such as "Come All Ye Bold Highway Men" and "Come All Ye Tender Hearted Maidens."
The inspiration for this version of the anthem emerged in a sudden flash of defamiliarization when Cryderman re-read the full lyrics to the anthem in Summer of 2008 in the context of Obama's inspiring campaign that pointed to the open question of America. When using the conventional tune and tempo, singers usually only do the first verse of the original lyrics. Cryderman found the full version of Francis Scott Key's lyrics not only very interesting, poignant and beautiful but, with a few subtle but important changes, resonant with 1960s folk songs in the vein of Bob Dylan and Don McLean. Thus, the song was born (again).
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