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.