Indiana Senator Pushes Bill to Fine Singers Who Alter 'Star-Spangled Banner'

Performers face small fee for changing lyrics of national anthem

January 5, 2012 9:05 AM ET
Kelly Clarkson and Seal perform the National Anthem at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Kelly Clarkson and Seal perform the National Anthem at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Indiana Senator Vaneta Becker is pushing a bill to impose a $25 fine on anyone who deviates from a set of standards in performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at events sponsored by public schools and universities. According to Becker, the bill is not intended to punish those who may flub a note or two while singing the national anthem. "It’s not like we’re going after anyone’s ability to sing," Becker said in an interview yesterday. "It’s more that we just want them to respect the words and the tune as it was originally intended and we normally sing it."

If Becker's bill had been passed a decade ago, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler would have been busted for changing the "home of the brave" line to "home of the Indianapolis 500" while singing the song before that race in 2001. It is unclear whether or not an instrumental take on the song, such as Jimi Hendrix's version from the Woodstock festival, or an unintentional lyrical flub like Christina Aguilera's gaffe at last year's Super Bowl, would violate the proposed standard.

Photos: Random Notes

If this bill passes in Indiana, it would not be the first state law strictly governing the performance of the national anthem. Massachusetts has a law imposing up to $100 in fines for playing the song "as dance music, as an exit march or as part of a medley." Michigan prohibits anyone from performing the song in a public space except in its entirety and "without embellishment."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories


The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

More Song Stories entries »