Never mind The Star-Spangled Banner; this should be the United States national anthem:

Broken Flag
by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye

Nodding tho the lamp's lit low, nod for passers underground.
To and fro she's darning, and the land is weeping red and pale.
Weeping yarn from Algiers. Weeping yarn from Algiers.

Weaving tho the eyes are pale, what will rend will also mend.
The sifting cloth is binding, and the dream she weaves will never end.
For we're marching toward Algiers. For we're marching toward Algiers.

Lullaby tho baby's gone. Lullaby a broken song.
Oh, the cradle was our call. When it rocked we carried on.
And we marched on toward Algiers. For we're marching toward Algiers
We're still marching for Algiers. Marching, marching for Algiers.
Not to hail a barren sky. Sifting cloth is weeping red.
The mourning veil is waving high a field of stars and tears we've shed.
In the sky a broken flag, children wave and raise their arms.
We'll be gone but they'll go on.  And on and on and on and on.

It's about Barbara Frietchie, who thumbed her nose in a most American way at the advancing confederate army in Frederick, Maryland, during the American civil war. Note also the lines about the underground railroad. Standing up to invading soldiers; silent disobedience in the service of human rights... This is what America is all about, ladies and gentlemen. In the Whittier poem about the incident, even the confederate army behaved gallantly.

Besides, the tune alone is enough to bring tears to your eyes. Just 4 notes, and so simple that even I can play it, but powerful nonetheless. Heroic, stately, and proud without being maudlin. Possibly the best thing Lenny Kaye has yet written. Beats the crap out of some old British drinking song. Easier to sing, too.

I suppose some people from the southern part of the United States might object, but Broken Flag does way more for me than The Star Spangled Banner ever did.

(It's on the Wave album, which I recommend as well.)

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