Includes songs by Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, Steve Goodman, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash. Don McClean, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon & more
Surprising in its inclusionary approach, Parade magazine published a long list of what it considers America’s greatest patriotic songs. Yet in tune with our current American moment, it’s using a generous definition of what patriotism means in modern times.
“One of the things that makes America wonderful,” they wrote, “is the freedom and the room to protest peacefully, to speak one’s mind and to demand that the country do better and be better.
“Our list of the best songs for your Independence Day playlist aren’t just full of references to red, white and blue (though we do have those, too!). They’re also songs with messages about what America is really like for those who live here, and how we’d like America to be.”
It’s a vast list with many unexpected but welcome choices, such as Springsteen’s “Born In The U.S.A.” in which its patriotic chorus is used ironically. (A slant famously lost on Ronald Reagan, who used it as a campaign song.) Yet this is not lost on the writer, who embraces the song for reflecting that moment in America, and the disregard for Vietnam vets. It’s what makes it, she writes, genuinely patriotic.
But also included are great songs about America in different ways, from Don McLean’s “American Pie” to Paul Simon’s “America,” but which are rarely considered patriotic. Yet these shifting definitions reflect the cultural change underway. As always, songs signify the change, and celebrate it.
Also great anthemic songs of America, such as Tom Petty’s classic “American Girl.”
The list includes many other often unsung songwriting heroes, even the late great Steve Goodman for writing the great, “City Of New Orleans.”
Also not unsung, but especially poignant now is the great Johnny Cash and his “Ragged Flag.”
Here is the entire list.
- Woody Guthrie, “This Land Is Your Land”
- Bruce Springsteen, “Born In The USA”
- James Brown, “Living In America”
- Simon & Garfunkel, “America”
- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “American Girl”
- Ray Charles, “America The Beautiful”
- John Philip Sousa, “Stars and Stripes Forever”
- Dolly Parton, “Color Me America”
- Steve Miller Band, “Living in the USA”
- Don McLean, “American Pie”
- Elton John, “Philadelphia Freedom”
- Aretha Franklin, “My Country Tis of Thee”
- Neil Diamond, “America”
- Hamilton Cast, “My Shot”
- Titus Andronicus, “A More Perfect Union”
- Funkadelic, “One Nation Under a Groove”
- Jay-Z and Kanye West (The Throne) Feat. Frank Ocean, “Made In America”
- Lenny Kravitz, “American Woman”
- Gary Clark Jr., “This Land”
- Demi Lovato, “Made in the USA”
- Childish Gambino, “This Is America”
- Faith Hill, “American Heart”
- Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Red White and Blue”
- Johnny Cash, “Ragged Old Flag”
- KISS, “Rockin’ in the USA”
- Johnny Horton, “The Battle of New Orleans”
- Sammy Hagar, “Remember the Heroes”
- John Mellencamp, “Pink Houses”
- Lee Greenwood, “God Bless the USA”
- Steve Goodman, “City of New Orleans”
- Kim Wilde, “Kids in America”
- Estelle Feat. Kanye West,” American Boy”
- Dave Matthews Band, “American Baby”
- Amy MacDonald, “4th of July”
- Trace Adkins, “Arlington”
- Brooks & Dunn, “Only In America”
- Miley Cyrus, “Party in the USA”
- John Mellencamp, “Our Country”
- Brad Paisley, “American Saturday Night”
- Toby Keith, “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue”
- Carrie Underwood, “All-American Girl”
- Weezer, “I Love the USA”
- Phil Vassar, “American Child”
Here is the message of change published with this list of powerful songs about America.
“The 4th of July is upon us, and it’s a time to celebrate freedom and embrace patriotism. It may feel and be more difficult than ever to do this year: We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, with many states seeing a resurgence of the coronavirus; we’re in the makes of a serious economic recession and we’re also in a time of almost unprecedented civil unrest over the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor,Elijah McClain and Ahmaud Arbery.
“One of the things that makes America wonderful is the freedom and the room to protest peacefully, to speak one’s mind and to demand that the country do better and be better. Our list of the best songs for your Independence Day playlist aren’t just full of references to red, white and blue (though we do have those, too!).
They’re also songs with messages about what America is really like for those who live here, and how we’d like America to be: Land of the free, home of the brave and a place where everyone has the liberty to survive, thrive and chase their dreams, regardless of their skin color, ethnicity or socioeconomic background. The best 4th of July and most patriotic songs aren’t just about flags and abstract freedoms. They’re about putting in the work to make those freedoms a reality and to make and keep our country a place of liberty, peace and justice for all.