Star Spangled Banner Lyrics
(As Edited by a Committee with Color Codes)
by Laurie Beth Jones
As a writer, I make my living with words. The bond between an editor and writer is akin to that of a priest and confessor, a client and an attorney, a therapist and a searcher, a sculptor and clay. Recently, I had my first experience with having a committee choose to edit, rewrite and reshape what I thought was a perfectly good piece of work. After I read their ‘color coded’ suggestions, I couldn’t help think about what might have happened if they had grabbed hold of the Star Spangled Banner and gone after it with ‘color coded’ changes.
“Oh say can you see”….Comment one. Color coded Orange “Are you implying that the person hearing this is blind? Suggest changing phrase to ‘All is clear, unless you are visually impaired.”
“By the dawn’s early light”….Comment two. Color coded Blue “Suggest being specific about time here. When does dawn’s early light actually begin? Phrase “dawn’s early light” seems repetitive, since the dawn is always early. Also, does this display lack of sensitivity to those in different time zones? Suggest replacing with “insert your specific time zone here.”
“What so proudly we hailed”…Comment three. Color coded Green “Proudly” seems to be out of keeping with what we are trying to convey here. Suggest replacing with “humbly.” Also, dislike the use of the word “hailed.” Could be construed as calling a taxi. Suggest replacing with “Summoned, or Called forth.”
“By the twilight’s last gleaming.” Comment four. Color coded Blue. “This sudden leap in time frame is juvenile. Also, twilight does not “gleam.” This usage could be construed to sound like “gleam in your father’s eye,” which is suggestive of human reproduction. Suggest replacing with “whenever seems appropriate.”
“And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air.” Comment five. Color coded Blue, Orange, Green and Blue. “How do we know these were rockets? Rockets weren’t invented until 1969. This lyric is tainted with inaccuracy. Commenter to Commenter. “I agree. I don’t like rockets.”
“Bombs bursting in air.” Again, were they rockets, or were they bombs?
Commenter Orange will be faxing over eight pages to describe differences in same. Added note: Please understand that Commenter Orange has no problem with bombs and rockets being referenced here, despite spouse owning an organization that makes competing devices called firecrackers.
Commenter Orange and Blue. This event of bombs and rockets was a one time battle that is better left in the past. Leaves us subject to litigation from implied competitor(s) in said battle.
“Gave proof through the night.” Comment six. Color coded Orange and Green. “Events cannot give proof.” Where is the proof? What case is being referred to here? Why “through the night?” Lights weren’t invented until the time of Thomas Edison, which post dates this event. How could person see if bombs were no longer bursting in the air? Suggest deleting reference “through the night” as it seems too intimate and familiar.
“That our flag was still there.” Comment seven. Color coded Blue. “Whose flag is this? Has it been copyrighted? Will this make us subject to litigation? Suggest dropping the flag.
“Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave.” Color coded Orange. Kudos. Nice usage of several words that begin with s.
“O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.” Color coded Orange, Blue, Green, and Yellow. Comments. “O’er’ is not a real word. Lazy use of phonetics. Suggest replacing with accurate “Over.”
Re: “Land of the free.” This sets up a false expectation as indeed many invoices are sent daily with costs attached. If authors persist in use of this word, they may be held personally liable. “Home.” Denotes white picket fence for some, condos for others. Suggest deleting word in deference to realtors, or replace with words “single family residence, condo, town home, villa, or cave.”
“Brave.” Color comment coded Blue, Orange and Yellow. Do not like this word. Suggest replacing with “safe.”
New Rewrite by the Committee
Oh say all is clear, unless you are visually impaired
what so humbly we summoned or called forth
at your specific time zones.
There used to be a lyric here about a battle
but that has been deleted.
There used to be a reference about “proof through the night” but
that has been deleted due to lack of time specificity, possible litigation from implied competitors,
and word “night” feeling overly intimate and familiar to someone.
That our (no word chosen) was still there.
Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave
over the land of the often invoiced with costs attached and the
single family residence, condo, town home, villa or cave
of the Safe.
Copyright all rights reserved unless specifically withheld in next pending review.
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I hope you have an awe inspiring Fourth of July weekend, un-edited by a committee!