By Bill Higgins: This item is five years old, or in another sense, twenty-six, but I’ve just learned of it.
Isaac Asimov loved “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Fandom’s music maven Matthew B. Tepper writes: “In March, 1991, Isaac Asimov published an essay in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction entitled ‘All Four Stanzas.’ In it, he gave the background of Francis Scott Key’s ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ (as it has come to be called), and perhaps just as remarkably, speaks of his own love of the anthem, and his habit of singing it with all four stanzas, not just the first one which is generally heard.”
In 2012, Mr. Tepper contributed to YouTube a 1991 audio recording of Asimov, aged 71, singing all four stanzas. Though Asimov’s wit was renowned, he performs here in perfect seriousness.
Asimov’s memorable essay on the song has been rewritten, and appears in garbled form on many sites around the Internet. Tepper also points out that in 2010, Eric Scheie made an effort to rescue “All Four Stanzas” from mutilation. Scheie tracked down the original essay, posted scans of the F&SF pages on which it appeared, and presented an HTML version:
In this moment, while Americans are focusing new attention on “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the meanings with which we invest it, it may be interesting to hear it sung by one who, while granting that his nation had its flaws, greatly loved its anthem– all four stanzas of it.