Top 10 Songs by America

America helped define soft rock in the ’70s.

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While soft rock was booming and a number of bands were trying their hand at the subgenre, America—Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek, and Gerry Beckley—stood out from the pack with some of the most stellar harmonies of the era. Their sense of arrangement was bar none and several of their songs— “Horse With No Name” and “Ventura Highway” to name a couple—have gone to be classics.

Below, we’re going through the three-piece’s (and eventual duo after Peek left the group) best work, mostly from the ’70s and early ’80s. From “Can’t Fall Asleep to a Lullabye” to “Sister Golden Hair,” find 10 of the greatest America songs below.

1. “Can’t Fall Asleep To A Lullabye”

“Can’t Fall Asleep To A Lullabye,” isn’t one of America’s most well-known songs, however with a cameo from Journey’s Steve Perry, it deserves a spot on this list. Another notable aspect of this song is that Billy Mumy, who played Will in the 1960s TV series Lost In Space, is credited as a co-writer. It’s a strange group of collaborators but they ultimately produced a killer song.

2. “You Can Do Magic”

“You Can Do Magic” was recorded after Peek left the band in the late ’70s. It was a bridge between their sound in the ’70s and what the duo would go on to produce in the following decade. It’s a standout on their View From The Ground album.

3. “I Need You”

Getting into more classic America tunes, “I Need You” was the second single on the band’s debut album, behind “A Horse With No Name.” All three members’ tight harmonies can be heard on this lush track.

4. “Today’s The Day”

“Today’s The Day” closed out the ’70s for America. Their last big hit in the decade, this track is yacht rock perfection. The song is featured on their album Hideaway, which would become their last to be recorded as a trio.

5. “Daisy Jane”

“Daisy Jane” has long been a fan favorite America song. They sing in the piano-led ballad, Like the star above me I know / Because when the sky is bright / Everything’s all right. With “Daisy Jane” leading the way, the group clinched one of their most commercially successful albums, Hearts.

6. “Ventura Highway”

“Ventura Highway” is America’s version of “go west, young man.” They sing, You’re gonna go I know
‘Cause the free wind is blowing through your hair / And the days surround your daylight there
— sonically welcoming the listener to the sun-soaked roads of California.

Bunnell once said, “I remember vividly having this mental picture of the stretch of the coastline traveling with my family when I was younger. Ventura Highway itself, there is no such beast, what I was really trying to depict was the Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1, which goes up to the town of Ventura.”

7. “Lonely People”

In an interview, Peek described “Lonely People” as a response to The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.” When listening to the song, the comparison is not hard to miss. The lyrics read This is for all the lonely people / Thinkin’ that life has passed them by / Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup. “Lonely People” peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1974.

8. “Tin Man”

Referencing pop culture again, America nods to The Wizard of Oz in “Tin Man.” The song became a huge hit for the band, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard charts. The iconic chorus reads, But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man / That he didn’t, didn’t already have / And ’cause never was the reason for the evening / Or the tropic of Sir Galahad.

9. “A Horse With No Name”

“A Horse With No Name,” served as America’s first single. It flew to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts—one of two chart-toppers for the group throughout their career. As a testament to how impressive it was that America earned a No. 1 song on their first release: Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Creedence Clearwater Revival are just a few rock staples that have never earned a No. 1.

10. “Sister Golden Hair”

According to Beckley, “Sister Golden Hair” was inspired by Jackson Browne. He once said, “[Jackson Browne] has a knack, an ability to put words to music, that is much more like the L.A. approach to just genuine observation as opposed to simplifying it down to its bare essentials.” The song earned the band their second No. 1.

Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images

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