Joan Baez will perform at the Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, 7:30pm, 1 Nov 2011. I read this on the Ann Arbor Ark's website and memories flooded my mind.
A long time ago I was working nights at the University of Akron radio station. We played several versions of this song as well as other "protest" songs. I remember Joan Baez's beautiful voice and that I prayed we'd stop killing in Vietnam. My cousin was a POW, shot down over Hanoi. Some of my friends who had enlisted because they were going to be drafted anyway or out of misplaced patriotism or out of a desire to prove themselves, to ... who... themselves, I guess... never came home.
It was a time of active discontent. Students and many others protested the war in Vietnam, the draft and racial injustice. I remember during one final exam the building next door, the university’s main administration building, erupted into flames and the Ohio National Guard was called in to take back the campus from the BUS protesters. I failed t he exam. I couldn’t concentrate. However, it wasn’t all the fault of the fire or the fact that the professor wouldn’t let us leave the building when the fire alarms went off. The previous weeks I didn’t study as much as I should have for the exam. I was too busy becoming a broadcaster.
We student broadcasters did manage to get into trouble though. Someone protested our playing Jose Feliciano’s version of the National Anthem before a U of A football game. We were threatened with suspension if we didn’t stop playing it. Looking back, we just liked the way he sang. We weren't participating in the times nor were we trying to make the world a better place. Little did we know that the song would become the center of controversy. (See below.)
Today, Joan is still singing the same song and I am still praying we will find a way to stop killing. Go here for a portion of Joan's bio: http://www.joanbaez.com/chronology.html
From Feliciano's website:
"Puerto Rican blind singer/guitarist Jose Feliciano stunned the crowd at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, and the rest of America, when he strummed a slow, bluesy rendition of the national anthem before Game 5 of the World Series between Detroit and St. Louis. The 23-year-old's performance was the first nontraditional version seen by mainstream America, and it is generally considered the Lexington and Concord of Star-Spangled Banner controversies. The fiery response from Vietnam-weary America was not surprising, considering the tumultuous year for American patriotism. Good or bad, however, Feliciano's performance opened the door for the countless interpretations of the Star-Spangled Banner we hear today."