I posted this video once before, back when everybody was freaking out about Nelly Furtado singing O Canada at that basketball game and I was trying to get them all to calm down. And now that the 25th anniversary of what is still one of the best worst anthem performances of all time has passed, I have an excuse to post it once more.
CBC Sports has a fun story with quotes from singer Dennis Casey Park about how his legendary performance came to be and what happened afterward.
“I’d just returned the day before from Japan where I’d been performing for a few months,” Park said. “I got a call initially to sing the anthem and assumed it was “The Star Spangled Banner.”
“I was very tired . . . and ended up saying yes. They called back a few hours later and I realized it was ‘O Canada’ and I said, ‘You know guys, I’m not familiar with ‘[O Canada].’ I’ve heard it a lot but never sung it.’ They said, ‘Oh, well, you agreed and we put it out in the press that you and Dionne Warwick [would perform national anthems at the game]. Can you do it? Can you do it? Will you do it, please?’ ”
Undeterred, Park received a tape of the music and the words and got down to work.
“I had it down fairly well or I wouldn’t have gone out there,” he said.
But moments before Park was to perform, he saw the on-field director signal there was no music. Park knew immediately he was in trouble.
“I’d never done ‘[O Canada]’ before and I needed the music to follow me up,” he said. “If the music had played, I would’ve been fine.
“So I started to sing and the first note came out and then I got an echo right in my ear. I’ve sung in stadiums all over and it [the echo] hit me and I got off and I was hoping to get back on. It’s not a long anthem and I was like, ‘Should I stop and apologize,’ and by the time I decided something the song was almost over. So I went through it and that was that.”
Park, who splits his time between Shanghai and Las Vegas these days, also knew his rendition was nowhere near correct.
“Of course I knew,” he said. “I knew that very second and was trying to figure out what to do.
“The big deal was the music and secondly was where I was singing. The echo came right back at me and knocked me off and because I didn’t have the music to guide me through I couldn’t get back on.”
Complaining, controversy and ridicule followed, but things turned out just fine in the end. Park went on something of an O Canada redemption tour, which I totally don’t remember even though I’ll never forget his original performance as long as I live. To this day he’s still recognized all over the place as Anthem Man, and he even ended up meeting his wife because of it. Thank god we didn’t have Twitter in 1994 or his career may have never recovered.