Looking as regal as ever and singing America’s song like it’s rarely been sung, Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin started the NFL’s Thanksgiving feast with a rousing, lengthy (possibly historically so) performance of the national anthem before the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions kicked off the league’s three-game holiday slate.
Franklin, dressed for a blizzard in a mink coat and puffed winter hat even with Ford Field being an indoor stadium, clocked in at a whopping 4 minutes, 35 seconds with her tremendous, powerful rendition which appropriately came in Motown. The 74-year-old, sounding like she did a half-century ago, played her first notes on a piano before launching into a soulful, interpretive performance of The Star-Spangled Banner that had multiple runs, vocal licks, vibratos, falsetto and everything else you used to hear during an episode of American Idol.
How long is 4:35? The average length of the last 10 Super Bowl national anthems has been 1:57. Only one song (of 24) on Franklin’s Greatest Hits album is longer. Christina Aguilera – Christina Aguilera – didn’t even hit two minutes at her Super Bowl performance and she held that last note like she was imitating Axl Rose. It’s hard to imagine there’s ever been a national anthem at an NFL game that’s gone longer.
That’s because nobody else has the chops, the poise, or the license to give such a long performance. Aretha? Aretha can do what she wants.