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Luke: No anthem apology needed

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

She called out a warning: "Don't ever let life pass you by."

-- Incubus

When I first heard that Leesburg native son and country music star Luke Bryan felt the need to apologize for writing some of the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner" on his hand and for looking at his watch while singing the national anthem at Major League Baseball's All-Star Game Tuesday night, I really thought it was a joke.

Sure, Bryan makes his living performing in front of ever-growing crowds, but I think even his harshest critic might admit that singing what most say is a really complex tune with no musical accompaniment to an audience that, with TV and radio broadcasts, soared upwards of 25 million might be a little daunting.

Now Luke, as he's affectionately known in Nashville and back home in Leesburg, doesn't need me or anyone else to jump to his defense. Hell, the last I checked, the guy was doing pretty OK for himself.

But I wonder how many of his critics have not, at some point in their lives, relied on some ingenious cheat-sheet method to get through a rough spot. I mean, come on, if you've never written test answers somewhere on your body to compensate for the fact that you spent the night before doing anything but studying ... well, let's just say you're pretty much alone in your sainthood.

And I'll venture a guess that pretty much 99.999 percent of the people who complained about Bryan looking at his watch while singing might have wanted some kind of timing cue as well to prepare for the Batplane flying overhead in the middle of some difficult activity they might have been involved in. You try hitting that "and the rockets red glare" high note at about the time a Stealth Bomber comes buzzing into your peripheral vision. You can't prepare for something like that.

And just imagine, given the uproar over the whole looking at his arm thing, what kind of apology Bryan would have had to issue if he'd sang, "And the rockets ... HOLY $#!&" when he looked up and saw Batman flying overhead.

There's a great new TV ad campaign -- I'm not sure for what product, I think it's either a car commercial or hype for some new feminine hygiene product -- in which an obviously too-hip young lady expresses sadness over how "older people" just forget how to socialize.

The girl is sitting alone in a room lit only by her computer, staring at the screen in front of her and bemoaning the fact that after all her efforts to finally bring her parents into the 21st century by insisting that they get a Facebook page, they'd so far collected only 19 "friends." She smiles proudly at the camera and says, "I have 698 (or some other high number) friends."

Her parents, meanwhile, are shown out hiking some outdoor trail -- they might have been climbing Mount Kilamanjaro or meandering up the Kolomoki Mounds -- with other actual people. They have the healthy glow of those who are doers, a stark contrast to the pasty face of their daughter.

I thought about that ad campaign when I read that folks were all over the various social media, sniping at Bryan for what they perceived was his not taking the job of singing the National Anthem for a few gazillion people seriously enough. Of course, a large number of those Facebookers and Twitterers hadn't actually seen Bryan's performance. They'd heard about it from their "friends."

That, sadly, has become the norm for this social networking generation. To them, talking about something they haven't seen, heard or experienced is equivalent to "doing" something. As if by passing on whatever information -- or misinformation -- they come across somehow makes them a part of some event they didn't even get in smelling distance of.

Here's a little unsolicited advice for the girl on the commercial with all the Facebook "friends" and the non-Hollywood electronic gossips who are just like her: Unplug yourself from your various electronic devices and get a real life. It's happening all around you while you're wasting time with all those "friends," who must be about as boring as you.

Email Carlton Fletcher at


outsidelookinin 1 year, 9 months ago

Excellent! As someone who has actually performed in front of an audience, and had my share of "mind blanks" while singing, I could completely understand why he did what he did. I even commented to my wife that if it had been me, I would have had a music stand with the lyrics in front of me! He was well within his rights to have a cheat sheet and I think he did an excellent job. I would venture a guess that no one at the event even noticed it, and none of us at home would have either if the camera had not been right in his face. He did a fantastic job and has nothing to apologize for.


SamShugart 1 year, 9 months ago

Res ipsa loquitur. I sometimes forget my own name much less the lyrics to great songs. Luke is as big a patriot as any red blooded American. Get'em LB!


FryarTuk 1 year, 9 months ago

I always avoid the first couple of paragraphs of Flether's article because I have to scroll down past that ugly mug of his. Can't you remove that picture? My cat Willy sits on my desk and reads The HeraldEmphasis on line with me but when his mug comes up he runs off. I rarely miss anything though since his writing is so redundant.


waltspecht 1 year, 9 months ago

I can't help but wonder how many of the critics actually even know the words to the entire song, let alone the first part. No Carlton, I've never written answers on any part of my body to take a test. However I am probably way down the list of Sainthood. I fail to see the comparison though. As our President can't even give a speech without a teleprompter, and propbably doesn't even care about the National Anthem, let alone know the words and tonalities.


whodat 1 year, 9 months ago

well, Walt, since you follow the news so carefully, you know how the media, pundits and the public all pick up on the least little thing a president (or candidate) says. And you also know what happens next--they analyze it, interpret it, spin it, and send it out to the cosmos for more of the same. It's not a moral failing to use a teleprompter; rather, it makes perfect sense when getting your message out is important enough to not make mistakes.


rock 1 year, 9 months ago

Teleprompters are used because the Presidents SPEECH WRITER that actually thought of the ideas and comments, presented the speech to yet another staffer for reading and comment and then after several staffers gave it to Obama to READ to the American public and foreign nationals. Obama has yet to have an original thought. I doubt if he even proofs and practices the speech beforehand. He just reads.

Luke Bryan is a PROFESSIONAL and as such should know the words to every song he is scheduled to sing. No excuse!!! UNLESS he only knew he was singing the Nationl Anthem 5 minutes before he walked on the field.


waltspecht 1 year, 9 months ago

I was dumb enough to think that if folks expected perfection from a singer to be without crib notes written on his hand, we should expect the same perfection from our President, shouldn't we?


rock 1 year, 9 months ago

Since we are speaking of Obama, he is a very motivational speaker, charismatic,presents his ideas that insights the millions and has so much disrespect for the Office he is seen on Gossip shows and Trash T.V and in Public without a coat and tie, BUT if he actually wrote a speech it would be written in Ghetto speak and BS. Hitler and Obama are related.


agirl_25 1 year, 9 months ago

I guess the people who were at the game the other night were not so much concerned about his singing as they were when he was going to be finished and the game was going to get started, doncha think? Everyone whoops and hollers before the last notes are sung anyway, so Luke should not give it a thought. As far as him writing a few words on his arm I don't really think many people gave a rip about it. Remember when Sarah Palin wrote crib notes on her hand when she was McCain's running mate? Every news outlet made such a big thing out of that but then it was no big deal to me.....was it to you? But I digress...I know the commercial of which you speak and I always found it kind of sad and funny that the girl sits at home worrying about her parents having such a lonely life while she sits in front of her PC screen with her Facebook pals and the parents are out biking with real live friends. The last two paragraphs touched something in me. How true they are. To them talking about something they haven't seen or done is equivalent to doing it. I am here to say they should do it. I wish they would not let the opportunity pass by for them do to something, no matter how small. Do NOT say I don't have the time or the money, just do it. As I say, no matter how small. You may regret it someday. Have no regrets. I do love the last paragraph of the piece tho...haha.....the unsolicited true.....sometimes I feel like an island surrounded by a sea of fools.


rightasrain 1 year, 9 months ago

Carlton Fletcher, the old adage "Stupid is as stupid does" fits this column more than all the others you contrive from your non-evolved brain. There are absolutely no reasons or excuses for any "professional" entertainer not to know the words to a song that he/she is going to sing and "golden boy" Luke is no exception! He knew that he was going to sing The Star Spangled Banner and if he didn't already know the words, he should have learned them BEFORE he set foot on stage. No. I will not allow him to make such a sorry excuse for his incompetence. If you don't like what I've written, go cry to your liberal towel.


Albanite 1 year, 9 months ago

Carlton, did you even read what Luke said about this issue? We'd guess not. In case you didn't hear the anthem either, it was one of Luke's worst performances, but not as bad as P2's "Home" which even Phillip hates - or the wretched, ear-bleeding, nasalized attempt at God-Bless America by Pickler in mid-seventh.


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