Baltimore’s Second Favorite Anthem

Street Talk Baltimore’s Second Favorite Anthem

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Little did Francis Scott Key know in 1814 when he wrote a poem called “Defence of Fort M’Henry” about the British warship bombardment at the fort in the Chesapeake Bay, it would later be adopted as the national anthem of the United States of America. The irony, of course, is the music the poem was set to was written by a Brit, John Stafford Smith.

Outside political rallies and sporting events, the song largely lies dormant. Baltimoreans have put their own hometown take on it with the “O” calls at the “oh say does that Star Spangled Banner….” There’s something almost exhilarating about the O shouts at sport events and the tie to Maryland’s history in creation of the anthem.

Sports fans know the real sports national anthem has become White Stripes, “Seven Nation Army”. Odd song choice really. The title itself was never intended to be the final title. It was a working title the lead guitarist used as he wrote it. It’s how he pronounced Salvation Army as a child.

Italy’s World Cup in 2006 was one of the first sporting events to utilize the song.

The Baltimore Ravens held a fan vote to choose the “official” hype song. Seven Nation Army became “our song”.

libs-valentine-2-300x250Looking at the history at M&T, including in the archives of RSR, not everyone was on board. Once it caught on though, there’s no stopping Ravens Nation. None. That first season fans seemed to wait for the public address system to prompt the rally cry, but no more. Its popularity has spilled over to OPACY where spectators both live and watching from home were able to distinctively hear it during the Orioles playoff home games.

There’s nothing like standing amongst the 70,000+ fellow Ravens Nations members yelling and dancing to “Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhhhh” repetitively, but a close second is watching the game from home and hearing the crowd going crazy and wishing you were among them, rooting on the men in purple and black.

As many as 27 teams, have their own rally song containing team specific lyrics. The Ravens have one but who among us knows any of its lyrics? (Cue the crickets). For now Ravens fans are more than content with Seven Nation Army which sufficiently raises blood flow and heart rates both on and off the field.

It’s hard to avoid hearing the de facto sports national anthem regardless of having their own anthem. No matter the televised sporting event, you’re likely to hear the crowd worked into a frenzy with the driving, adrenaline raising thump of the pseudo bass line. It’s exhilarating and frustrating. It floods memories of football games and reminds that we’ve got a long way to go and hey, it’s our song.

The Star Spangled Banner was adopted by congressional action as the national anthem in 1931. It was written as an homage to the War of 1812, but is deeply rooted in Baltimore lore.

Seven Nation Army may belong to the masses of global sports fans, it too has deep Baltimore roots. The Ravens are the only NFL team that identifies it as its official rally song.

It seems like forever that our men suited up on Sunday afternoons and we have a long way to go, but hearing Seven Nation Army in other venues keeps us hungry for September.

In the hearts of Baltimore sports fans who rise at the playing of the National Anthem and some shout “O” at the lyric prompt, we know our secondary national anthem is Seven Nation Army and we’ll shout “Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhh..” for the next three hours.

Should the Ravens continue to use Seven Nation Army on game day?

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Cheryl Bowens

About Cheryl Bowens

I grew up a Baltimore sports fan. Loved the Colts and was devastated when they left town. Tried to find another team, but nothing was right until the Ravens came to Baltimore to roost. Insane childhood memories of doubleheaders spend at Memorial Stadium watching Orioles royalty on the field. I live in Hagerstown, MD with my high school football playing, team captain son. Studied Communications, journalism focus at Shepherd University and UMUC and have written for various trade publications. More from Cheryl Bowens


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