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10 America-Themed Songs for the Fourth of July

Bruce Springsteen
(Roger Kisby/Getty)

American popular music has been around since before America even declared its independence. ‘Yankee Doodle,’ anyone? That classic was sung by Colonial American soldiers as early as The French and Indian War.

Since then, our country has established one of the richest musical traditions in the world. Many songs even deal with America itself, from ‘God Bless America’ to ‘God Bless the USA.’

Here’s a list of 10 to add to your Fourth of July playlist.

Jimi Hendrix – ‘The Star Spangled Banner’

There may be people who don’t feel like hearing this blistering rendition of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ the first minute they walk in your door. The question you have to ask yourself is, do you really want those people at your party?

Bruce Springsteen – ‘Born in the U.S.A.’

‘Born in the U.S.A.’ tells the story of the difficulties faced by veterans after returning from the Vietnam War. It’s an uplifting tune for such a somber subject, one that’s just as relevant today as it was more than 25 years ago.

Ray Charles – ‘America The Beautiful’

Listening to Ray’s rendition, you might not guess that the lyrics were written by an English professor named Katharine Bates on a trip across the country in the 1890s. Something tells us this wasn’t quite the arrangement she had in mind, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful.

Creedence Clearwater Revival – ‘Fortunate Son’

This working-class anthem was meant to protest a military draft service that favored the wealthy and privileged. Though the draft hasn’t been used since the Vietnam War, many would argue that this song’s message is still relevant today.

Paul Simon – ‘An American Tune’

If anyone is going to tear up this Fourth of July, do them a courtesy and let it be to this song. Loosely inspired by the bicentennial, ‘An American Tune’ is a poetic and introspective look at life in America.

Phil Ochs – ‘Power and the Glory’

Phil Ochs was a contemporary of Bob Dylan who has been forgotten by some and never known by many more. Still, his folksy tribute to America is sure to strike a chord.

David Bowie – ‘Young Americans’

In interviews, David Bowie has said that he crammed his entire American experience into this song. That’s a lot for just over three minutes. Then again, the studio version is over five.

Tom Petty – ‘American Girl’

A tribute to traffic, Tom Petty said the sound of cars cruising along the freeway outside his Los Angeles apartment was the inspiration for this classic song. To him they sounded like the ocean.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – ‘This Land Is Your Land’

If you don’t feel like spending Independence Day in the dust bowl, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings’ funky update on the Woody Guthrie classic might be more your speed.

The Isley Brothers – ‘Freedom’

Sometimes freedom just makes you wanna sing. Don’t fight the urge. Unless you want to. You’re free to do that, too.

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