Ep. 101: #HowDidThatHappen: The Star Spangled Banner, with author Tim Grove

Photo by Dave Sherrill on Unsplash

The Star Spangled Banner is the nickname of our flag, but it’s also the title of our national anthem. What should we know about how our national song came to be, and what makes it unique among national anthems around the world?

Author and history consultant Tim Grove
Tim Grove


Joining me today from Washington, DC, is author and history consultant Tim Grove. Tim holds a graduate degree in history and an undergraduate degree in journalism. His career has included positions at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the National Air and Space Museum, and the National Museum of American History, which is home to the Star-Spangled Banner. Tim writes history nonfiction and his most recent book is Star-Spangled: The Story of a Flag, a Battle, and the American Anthem.


We discuss:

  • How the lyrics to The Star Spangled Banner came to be written
  • What we should know about Francis Scott Key, and why he had a close-up view of the action in this battle.
  • The backstory of the music that the poem was set to and why it was an ironic match.
  • The flag that inspired Key.
  • When The Star Spangled Banner became our national anthem.
  • Unlike most national anthems, ours tells a story of a historic event (vs. a song of prayers for blessings or proclaiming values of courage, freedom).

Connect/Other Resources

  • Tim’s author website
  • Tim’s author Facebook page: @timgroveauthor
  • Tim blogs at HistoryPlaces.
  • Tim’s most recent book is Star-Spangled: The Story of a Flag, a Battle, and the American Anthem.
  • Other books by Tim can be viewed here.
  • If you enjoyed this conversation, you may also enjoy:
    1. Ep. 15: Veterans Day Tribute + Role of Music in the Military: with Jari Villanueva, Taps Historian, USAF
    2. Ep. 25: MLK Day: Role of Spirituals within African American Culture, with award-winning musician and educator Bruce Henry
    3. Ep. 30: Baseball & organ – the sound of spring fever, with MN Twins organist Sue Nelson
    4. Ep. 43: Memorial Day: A combat veteran tells his story and shares how music is serving those who serve our country, with CreatiVets’ Richard Casper
    5. Ep. 52: In honor of the “2020” Olympics: The MUSICAL Olympic event, with champion equestrian Betsy Van Dyke

 In-Episode Promo

This is a quick break to tell you about Sonix, the service that I use to transcribe these episodes. Sonix is an artificial intelligence transcription service that automatically converts audio and video files to text – and can translate to over 40 languages. I transcribe these episodes to make them more accessible. I tried multiple services, and chose to stick with Sonix because of their accuracy, affordability, and because their site is just so easy to use; that’s a big plus for me, to not need to spend a bunch of time figuring out one more platform! While I love podcasts, I do tend to be a very visual learner. I figure other people probably are, too; and having that written form of your work just makes it more versatile. Sonix transcripts make the most of your hard work and can increase traffic to your site. Sonix is spelled s-o-n-i-x. You can check them out with a free trial PLUS an extra 100 minutes of free transcription by using the link sonix.ai/invite/enhancelife100. There’s a link in the show notes. Again, it’s sonix.ai/invite/enhancelife100 for a free trial AND an extra 100 minutes of free transcription. 


As a long-time Washington, DC, resident, Tim has been to many July 4th concerts by the National Symphony Orchestra on the lawn of the Capitol building. He describes some of these events, how there’s always a different version of The Star Spangled Banner, and a particularly spectacular rendition of The Star Spangled Banner sung by Sandi Patty in 1986 (during the rededication of the Statue of Liberty).

Closing Words

And that was a bit of the YouTube audio from the event Tim was describing: Sandi Patty singing during the 1986 rededication of the Statue of Liberty. The YouTube link is in the show notes, as well as ways to connect with Tim and get a copy of his book, Star Spangled. Enhance Life with Music has passed our 100th episode milestone, and our 2nd birthday is coming up in August! We would love to have you help us celebrate this 2nd BD milestone by rating and leaving a written review in whatever podcasting app you use, or on Podchaser.com. I’ll be reading reviews on the show as part of our celebration! Every podcast app is a little different in terms of how you rate and review, so I won’t go into detailed instructions here; but if you just google “review a podcast on apple podcasts” for example, you’ll find instructions specific to your app. Tell us in the review why you listen; and thanks in advance for helping us celebrate our birthday! As always, you’ll find a transcription of this episode in the show notes. And you’ll find me on email (mindy@mpetersonmusic.com), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. All links are on my website and in the episode details right in your podcast app. Thank you so much for joining me today. Until next week, may your life be enhanced with music.

View Episode Transcription

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