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National Anthem Protests, From ‘Jazzing the Banner’ to Taking a Knee


Meghan Linsey dropped to one knee following her performance of the national anthem at the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks game last weekend.

Ryan Hermens/The Paducah Sun, via Associated Press

The Popcast is hosted by Jon Caramanica, a pop music critic for The New York Times. It covers the latest in pop music criticism, trends and news.

This past weekend, following comments by President Donald J. Trump suggesting that athletes who protest the national anthem should be fired, the players of the N.F.L. responded in force. Some took a knee, following the example of Colin Kaepernick; others raised a fist; some stayed in the locker room. And the protests extended to those performing “The Star-Spangled Banner” as well: In Detroit and Nashville, singers dropped to one knee at the end of their renditions.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” has long been a site of dissent and disagreement. There have been heretical readings of it since even before it was officially named this country’s national anthem in 1931. And it is in many ways a cipher, open to interpretation. In the first half of the 20th century, long before Jimi Hendrix dismantled it at Woodstock, ragtime, swing and jazz versions of the song caused consternation and backlash.

On this week’s Popcast, Mr. Caramanica talks about the history of the national anthem with Marc Ferris, a historian and the author of “Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of America’s national anthem.” And he speaks with Meghan Linsey, the Nashville singer who took a knee following her performance of the anthem before last Sunday’s Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks game.

Email your questions, thoughts and ideas about what’s happening in pop music to popcast@nytimes.com.

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