The NFL continues to wrangle with its issue of players taking a knee during the national anthem, but this isn’t the first time The Star Spangled Banner has collided with politics, race and a major sporting event.
In 1968, a rising Puerto Rican pop star, José Feliciano, was asked to sing the anthem before Game 5 of the World Series. The St. Louis Cardinals were playing the Detroit Tigers in Tiger Stadium.
At that time, Feliciano’s had a hit single with his cover of The Doors’ Light My Fire. The world seemed to be changing very quickly; there was a lot of focus on what media was calling the Youth Movement. It was a good time to showcase new talent.
Vintage tape shows a young guy in sunglasses (Feliciano was born blind) seated on a stool, playing his acoustic guitar.
Back then, the anthem was generally performed by popular musicians of stage and screen, or talented first-responders and members of the military, always in a very straightforward way.
Feliciano’s gentle, Latin jazz-infused version puzzled some people. And it outraged others.
“After I sang it, it was really strange to hear me being booed, as well as yay’d, and I didn’t know what happened,” he recalled when I reached him by telephone last week, while he was on tour in London.
Read more at NPR.