Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Greatest

Hanging out with friends the other night, comparing who had sung the greatest National Anthem of all time - I had always supported the Whitney faction, while others were in Mariah's corner - I stumbled across a true gem that I had never heard before. Alright, before I go on, I must say that there are others that are pretty good - Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, R. Kelly even has a pretty good one (although it seems like a carbon-copy of the Marvin Gaye version) - but all, including the Whitney and Mariah versions pale in comparison to the great Marvin Gaye. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. If you have not watched this video on youtube, do you yourself a favor and check it out.
The thing that makes this version so amazing is that it's basically taking a song that is typically untouchable, and modifying it. From the start, this cat struts out wearing his sunglasses and polyester, and in the background is a beat that I can assure you has never before - nor since - been used for the National Anthem. It's a smooth, soulful beat that keeps time as he steps to the microphone; not that typical magisterial, pompous beat that is typical for the anthem. He then proceeds to slowly sing out the song in long, slow sentences, as if wooing a woman to bed, instead of singing the praises of the battle at Fort McHenry. The song lasts all of two and half minutes, but it seems to go on forever; and in that short span, the crowd - and all-star basketball game crowd - has become enthralled, and is cheering Marvin's every line. He finishes in the same manner as the rest of the song, slow and seductive, and brings it home with a long vibrato on the word "braaaaaaaaave". Hats off to you, Marvin, hats off.


Crystal Marie said...

Disagree. Disagree. Disagree.

I've heard almost all the versions you cited, included the Marvin one. Marvin's version was by far the smoooooooothest and the coolest.

However... Whitney's version reigns supreme. It was powerful, strong, clear and makes me misty every time!

mpm210 said...

Hey, don't get me wrong, I love Whitney's version. Of all the ballad versions that exist out there, Whitney's reigns supreme; but I have to say that Marvin's version - even including Whitney's - is the first version that really has soul. I mean, the National Anthem is a powerful song, but it gets boring when it's always sung with the same tune and beat. Marvin mixes it up.

Mr. Chap said...

I gotta agree...Marvin's version is king.