Carroll's Cuisine: Star-Spangled Interpretation • Latino Sports

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Carroll’s Cuisine: Star-Spangled Interpretation

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Flushing, NY – The Detroit Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since 1934. The Lions have also been a lousy football team for most of the time since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first administration. This year has been a bit different since the Lions as they found themselves leading their division, the NFC North, after beating the Minnesota Vikings 16-13 in a thrilling Thanksgiving game.

On both traditional and social media the leading topic was not the game itself but rather Aretha Franklin’s dragged-out version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” which lasted well past four minutes. New York Post sports media critic Phil Mushnick was still railing against Franklin in his column this past Sunday.

Aretha Franklin is a proud Detroit native and clearly wanted to give a memorable performance for her hometown football team. She was probably not told by anyone that a lot of people would be holding a tremendous American flag on the field as she performed or that most spectators at sporting events have short attention spans for the national anthem and just want the game to get underway as soon as possible.

After watching a replay of her rendition of the Francis Scott Key patriotic theme it’s clear to me that she meant no disrespect and was simply trying to honor America on a beloved national holiday. The national discussion about Aretha’s anthem performance reminded me of another kerfuffle on the same topic that coincidentally took place in Detroit.

In 1968 Jose Feliciano, the talented guitarist and singer whose career was just starting to take off, was selected by Major League Baseball to perform the anthem before Game 5 of the World Series that featured the Cardinals taking on the Tigers.

Feliciano decided to ditch the time-honored melody and replace it with an original arrangement accompanied by his flamenco acoustic guitar playing. The immediate reaction was rather muted as there was both little applause but no noticeable booing either.

The reaction from the heartland was strongly unfavorable as radio station programmers, especially in what are now referred to as red states, immediately stopped playing his records. His career was stopped in its tracks.

There is little doubt that history conspired against Jose. The Vietnam War was at its height and the nation was polarized (yes, even worse than it may seem today.) Jose’s performance was completely misunderstood by the folks who President Nixon labeled “The Silent Majority.” Being a young musician in the “long-haired hippie rock & roll” era probably did not help either in trying to win over middle America.

History has been kind to Jose Feliciano. Major League Baseball has placed his performance that day on YouTube. Nearly everyone, regardless of political viewpoint, now considers it to be a masterpiece.

Jose has frequently performed the national anthem at ballparks in recent years. The applause is always deafening as it should be and some of that understandably comes out of a collective guilt.

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About Lloyd Carroll

Lloyd Carroll is the Senior Columnist for the Queens Chronicle, an award-winning weekly newspaper that has served the communities of Queens since 1978. This article as well as many future articles will also appear at Queens Chronicle. In addition, Lloyd also writes for our friends over at NYSportsDay.com. In today’s world of online publications, we at Latino Sports understand and value the importance of collaborating with other online publications in order to showcase and create awareness of each other’s work and dedication to our respectable communities.

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