Reporter’s Notebook: ‘Star Spangled Banner’ On A Chainsaw A CSD Tradition

What started out as a way for outdoors writer to annoy his neighbors has become a patriotic Cowboy State Daily tradition. Mark Heinz comes in with his 2024 chainsaw rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Mark Heinz

July 03, 20242 min read

Cowboy State Daily outdoors writer Mark Heinz plays "The Star Spangled Banner" on his Stihl MS 261 chainsaw.
Cowboy State Daily outdoors writer Mark Heinz plays "The Star Spangled Banner" on his Stihl MS 261 chainsaw. (Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily)

Where did I get the ridiculous idea to play “The Star Spangled Banner” on a chainsaw?

Well, the short answer is a few years ago on the Fourth of July. It was in response to neighbors who were being annoying, so I wanted to annoy them back.

The college kids who were renting the place next door had been shooting off fireworks late into the night. That’s technically not allowed within Laramie city limits, but that’s only loosely enforced around Independence Day, to say the least.

At first, I wanted to do what my Old Man and I had always done on the Fourth when I was growing up in Butte, Montana.

I was going to take my muzzle-loading black powder Hawken rifle down off the wall and load it with a full charge. Instead of a lead bullet, I’d ram a wad of newspaper down the barrel.

Back in Butte, Dad and I would step outside with our Hawkens thusly loaded, point our muzzles toward the sky and touch those babies off. The resounding booms and window-shaking concussions were truly a thing to behold.

But my wife, being the one with more common sense, wasn’t having it.

“Fine, then,” I retorted. “I’ll just go out back and play ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ on one of my chainsaws.”

She didn’t like that idea much either, but didn’t stop me.

Our daughter crawled out on the carport roof and shot video of my impromptu performance – which did, in fact, get the neighbors to shut up, if only for a little while.

Later, after I came onboard with Cowboy State Daily, Editor Jimmy Orr saw that video and insisted I make a new video for publication.

So last year I did, and people loved it.

This year, we took it to the next level, filming on location outside a friend’s fireworks stand in the booming community of Buford, official population 1.

We lit some smoke bombs and Jimmy took video. Jimmy’s dog — the official CSD newshound, Mimi — even got to take part.

Despite my tempo being off in a couple of places, I think this year’s edition turned out pretty well.

So, dear readers, I hope you enjoy your 2024 Independence Day Cowboy State Daily chainsaw serenade.

And please, stand when you play it.

Watch on YouTube

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter