Just When You Thought You Had Me Pegged

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Just When You Thought You Had Me Pegged

Confession: It bugged me just a little bit that Hispanic pop stars gathered last week to record "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish and, what's more, renamed it "Nuestro Himno” — meaning "Our Anthem." Translating it may be one thing, but to give "The Star-Spangled Banner" a new name only feeds into the concern that Latino immigrants are unwilling to embrace American culture and institutions.

Call me stubborn, but poetry and musical verse that are written in a particular language were meant to be recited or sung in that language. Guillaume Apollinaire's "Le Pont Mirabeau" sounds romantic and blissful in French, but it sounds almost trite when translated into English.

A Puccini opera is meant to be sung in Italian, Gregorian chant in Latin, and "Won't Get Fooled Again" in English. I wouldn't move to France and stroll into a CD store shopping for an English version of "La Marseillaise." That just wouldn't seem right.

But have no fear -- your humble narrator has not gone off the deep end. This is just my preference; it's not something that has me angry, deeply worried or obsessed. If someone wants to record "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Urdu, be my guest.

Unlike the gaggle of Republicans led by Sen. Lamar Alexander, I'm not petrified that people who speak that language are taking over dear ole America.

The quagmire in Iraq drags on, the misery in Darfur continues, energy prices are rising, and interest rates are too, but these senators have other priorities. They have introduced a resolution to protect "The Star-Spangled Banner" and other "patriotic" songs from translation.

Now I'm sure we'll all sleep better at night.

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