- This year marks 200 years since "Star-Spangled Banner" was penned.
Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics of our national anthem in September 1814, near the end of the War of 1812.
- It's getting a makeover tonight.
In honor of the anniversary, tonight's celebration on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol will feature a brand new arrangement by John Williams. He'll hard-pressed to breathe new life into the song while keeping its spirit. But if anyone can do it, it's the man who brought you the classic Harry Potter and Star Wars themes.
- Key almost never saw that the flag was still there.
As a prominent lawyer, he was sent to negotiate the release of a doctor. He was successful, but the British insisted that they stay the night while the battle at Fort McHenry was waged nearby. If they had let them go right away, Key would never have been inspired to write the lyrics the next morning.
- The British agreed it was a sight for sore eyes.
One of the seamen on a British ship saw the same flag as Key and admitted that it was a "superb and splendid ensign." It's no wonder they both noticed it: The American commander had ordered that a flag be raised that was large enough to be seen by the British. Classic example of that "Go big or go home" attitude we love here in the U.S.
- Thank the Red Sox and the Cubs when you sing it before a sporting event.
You might have known the tradition of a pre-game performance of the song has roots in the World Wars, but did you know the first professional game to feature the song was the 1918 World Series? It wasn't until after World War II, though, that singing before games became a given.
- When we sing it, we're actually singing a (very British) drinking song.
The tune comes from "Anacreon In Heaven," the official song of a high class British club that did a little bit of singing and socializing--and a whole lot of drinking. Francis Scott Key had set lyrics to the song before, but lyrics of "The Defense of Fort McHenry" (later retitled as "The Star-Spangled Banner") became the most associated with this music tune.
- Whitney Houston's version hit the Billboard Top 100...twice.
Arguably the best ever performance of the song, the singer first astounded audiences with her rendition at the 1991 Super Bowl. Her recording of the song peaked at 20 and spent 11 weeks on Billboard's Top 100. A decade later, the song was rereleased in the wake of 9-11 and spent another 16 weeks on the chart.
If somehow you don't love her rendition for her voice, love it because she donated all her proceeds to charity.
In honor of the Fourth of July, here are 7 fun facts that you may not have known about our national anthem.