Last year, I wrote here about Wayne Messmer, who sings the National Anthem before most Cubs games and at other sports events around Chicago. It included embedding a terrific featurette on Messmer's story, which in part tells of him being shot in the throat a few years ago, and it was thought he might not walk again (or live), let alone talk -- let alone sing.
The piece also embedded several videos of Messmer singing the Anthem -- magnificently. His style is very rich, yet straight forward with no self-centric flourishes. The article also included my favorite version, a video of him singing it along with his wife Kathleen, a duet they perform half a dozen times or so each year at Wrigley Field. What I love about the rendition is the simplicity but arranged in gorgeous and intricate harmony, with Messmer foregoing his usual lead vocal and taking the background instead. There's no self-serving flamboyance to their performance, just a simple through-line and modulation, but it's loaded with texture and heart.
Unfortunately, when I originally posted the story I couldn't find a good version that shows off the harmony properly, the sound in the clip is sort of tinny and blended. But I wrote that I'd keep looking. And I finally have one! I subscribe to MLB GameDay and was watching today's Cubs game, when the Messmer duo performed the National Anthem. Thank goodness for the "rewind" feature. I simply scrolled-back the video and then recorded it on my phone. And here it is.
(For reasons that are inexplicable, when I converted the video for this site, it reversed the image. So, everything is end-for-end. Happily, the words came out in proper English.)
To all those performers who are given the platform to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" on a public stage and want to show off how great you are -- this is how it's done.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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