The number of songs that people consider to be patriotic on the 4th of July is seemingly endless. Classic rock, country, pop, punk – you name it, and an artist of some genre who loves America has performed a song about the United States and how this is the greatest nation on earth. So, for what it’s worth, this writer offers his list of what he feels are the 10 best songs of patriotism on America’s most explosive holiday.
10. “Living In the Promiseland” by Willie Nelson. Written by underrated country singer David Lynn Jones, this song celebrates the American spirit that existed in U.S. before a damaged economy and the fear of losing our identity to attackers dampened our spirits. But America always comes back.
9. “Independence Day” by Martina McBride. McBride made this song a July 4th staple for every woman who’s been abused, but for a special treat, check out songwriter Gretchen Peters’ great (and more produced) version on the 2010 CD Original Songwriter Demos 1.
8. “In God We Still Trust,” Diamond Rio. This song isn’t very widely known, but is a great piece by one of country music’s best vocal groups, especially during a time when we aren’t ashamed to spend money with God’s name on it, but often don’t want Him to have much else to do with the country that was founded on His precepts.
7. “America” by Neil Diamond. Not a Neil Diamond fan, you say? Either way, you’d be hard-pressed to find a song that sums up what America has stood for to the millions who have risked their lives to get here.
6. “America,” written by Sammy Johns and performed by Waylon Jennings. A wonderful classic by Ol’ Waylon, who, like his buddy Willie above, truly loved this country and its people of all persuasions and locations.
5. “This Ain’t No Rag, It’s a Flag” by the Charlie Daniels Band. Daniels has always worn his heart on his sleeve when it comes to his love for America, and this song is another example of how much he treasures his country.
4. “Only in America,” Brooks and Dunn. This song was recorded several months before the September 11, 2001 attack on New York City, and relevant as it was when B&D performed it, it became downright important after 9/11. America became a place “where we dream in red, white and blue” as never before.
3. “This Land is Your Land,” Woody Guthrie. Guthrie recorded it well over half a century ago, but this classic has been covered by everyone from Dylan and Springsteen to Counting Crows and funk/soul group Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. The quintessential celebratory American anthem, this song was made for you and me.
2. “America the Beautiful,” Ray Charles. There are numerous renditions of this song by some great artists. But Charles excels in every way when he performs it, whether it be a in a recorded version or in one of many video versions that can be found on the ‘net. To hear someone who suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous racism still sing the praises of this country – and play all the chord changes correctly, no less, while singing the fire out of it – speaks for itself both morally and musically.
1. “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Jimi Hendrix, from the Woodstock album and movie. You don’t have to be a lover or hater of any particular type of music to appreciate what Hendrix did here. Countless versions of this song exist by countless artists, but onetime Nashville resident Hendrix, with a stock Fender Stratocaster, a couple Marshall amps and some effects pedals, created the sounds of war and bombs bursting in air in a way that no computer today can touch. Our national anthem, performed at high volume by a former Fort Campbell-based U.S. Army private who was a racial mix of Caucasian, black and Cherokee – what could be more American than that on the 4th of July?