A few days ago, Sufjan Stevens posted this version of "The Star Spangled Banner" on his tumblr page in (dis)honor of Election Day. He gives our National Anthem the usual Sufjan treatment and then nearly lets the song break down into beautiful dischord, drowning under an American sized wall-of-sound. Stevens takes a liberal approach, changing “bombs bursting in the air” to simply “all the bombs in the air,” casting a deeply chilling critique of the American government. He elucidates further, but does not match the power of the slight augmentation of something we know in detail.
In a true commendation, Sufjan Stevens takes the old’e clichéd you’ve-heard-it-a-million-times “Star Spangled Banner” and actually turns it into a listenable, interesting, and beautiful track. Removed from our expectations, the song is returned some of its original heft. Now, if only we could get Sufjan to play this at a large sporting event (or even better, Obama’s inaguration) it could exist in the pantheon with other great renditions of our national anthem like Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, Marvin Gaye at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game, or Whitney Houston at the 1991 NFL Super Bowl.