Warning: How You Sing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ Could Be Against the Law
It's the Fourth of July holiday weekend and people will be singing and playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" everywhere you turn. But if they don't play our national anthem correctly or in its entirety, it could mean a $100 fine.
Yes, proper singing and playing of the national anthem is actually a law in Massachusetts Though I have no idea how often this law is enforced, it remains on the books and can be a finable offense for those who break it.
Believe it or not, if you even start singing the national anthem and don't finish ... you have broken the law.
According to Section 9 of the Massachusetts General Laws, "Whoever plays, sings or renders the 'Star-Spangled Banner' in any public place, theatre, motion picture hall, restaurant or café, or at any public entertainment, other than as a whole and separate composition or number, without embellishment or addition in the way of national or other melodies, or whoever plays, sings or renders the ''Star-Spangled Banner,' or any part thereof, as dance music, as an exit march or as a part of a medley of any kind, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars."
Basically, all that legal speak means you can't just play a portion of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Singers can't start the song and not finish, DJs can't mix it in with other tracks at the club (I'm looking at you, Gazelle) and bands can't perform parts in a medley of other patriotic tunes.
It has to be all "Star-Spangled Banner" and nothing but "Star-Spangled Banner." Or else.
Seems like a strange law, though I totally get the paying your respects to our national anthem and I'm sure lyricist Francis Scott Key completely agrees with this Massachusetts measure.
It's an odd law, but probably not Massachusetts' oddest. Here is some more laughable legislation on the books in the Bay State: