Friday, July 4, 2008

Fourth of July!

It's the Fourth of July (just in case you missed it)! And in honor of the fourth, I would first like to bring you the document that brings us this three-day weekend and fireworks events: The Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson really outdid himself in both style and content when he penned that. I also find the rest of the site of interest; it's full of fun facts to know and then possibly get beaten up for knowing. Also, if anyone has 7 hours free this three-day weekend, I strongly recommend tracking down HBO's miniseries "John Adams". With only a couple glaringly huge historical flaws, the miniseries as a whole is wonderfully done and incredibly compelling. Excellently written and exquisitely acted, it is well worth the time needed to reintroduce (or meet for the first time) some of these historical figures to our lives.

But now on to the real issue of the day: what would someone put on a compilation CD about America, without including such horrific songs as Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)" -a song which until I went and looked it up today I always referenced as "the 'boot in yer ass' song"- and Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American"?

I've been thinking about this for most of the day; would I include such time honored favorites as "This Land is Your Land" and "Stars and Stripes Forever"? Would I throw in some revolutionary war songs and some Civil War songs, including "Dixieland"? I don't know. So far, my list is this:

1) Eyes on the Prize- Bruce Springsteen off of "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions", because it represents such an important period of our country's history.

2) Small Town- John Mellencamp off of "Scarecrow". When we think of America, we think of New York City; but oftentimes the first thing that comes to mind is the ideal small town. Like apple pie, small town says 'America' to us like nothing else.

3) Life Uncommon- Jewel, off of "Spirit". I think it represents the ideals of America: freedom, bravery, free speech, and the urge to actually do something, to go out and make something of yourself.

4) Centerfield- John Fogerty, of of "Centerfield". It is a song about a truly American sport and pastime.

5) Surfin' U.S.A.- The Beach Boys, off of "Endless Summer". Quintessentially American music, talking about the U.S.A.

6) Subterranean Homesick Blues- Bob Dylan, off of "Bringing it all Back Home". It is in the Beat-American style, and obliquely references Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. One of Dylan's socially conscious songs, it is purely American in both style and delivery.

7) America- Neil Diamond, off of "The Jazz Singer". Full of Patriot feeling.

8) America- Simon & Garfunkel, off of "Bookends". A little more dystopian, but still about searching for America, the America of dreams and of hope.

9) If I Had a Hammer- Pete Seeger, off of "If I Had a Hammer: Songs of Hope and Struggle". Because being blacklisted didn't keep him down.

10) American Pie- Don McLean, off of "American Pie". "A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile..."

11) California Girls- David Lee Roth, off of "Crazy From The Heat". Cuz East Coast girls are hip.

12) Born in the U.S.A.- Bruce Springsteen, off of "Born in the U.S.A." I think that's kind of obviousl.

13) Take Me Home, Country Roads- John Denver, off of "Poems, Prayers, and Promises" Same sort of premise as "Small Town".

14) Pink Houses- John Mellencamp, off of "Uh-huh". Another song that deals with the reality of America not living up to the American dream.

15) California- Joni Mitchell, off of "Blue". Because it talks about California.

16) Woodstock- Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, off of "So Far", because it details harmoniously one of the great concerts -and great political ideals- of all time. "And I dreamed I saw the bombers riding shotgun in the sky, and they were turning into butterflies above our nation".

17) For What It's Worth- Buffalo Springfield, off of "Buffalo Springfield"; another protest song.

18) The Preamble -America Rock, from School House Rock.

Any other songs of note?


MediaMaven said...

Pretty good list so far. I was going to suggest the Neil Diamond song, since I heard it for the first time today in years and remembered how much I love that song. (I also seem to have vague memories of it appearing on an episode of "Reading Rainbow.") Did you notice that many of the artists you repeated and are considered classically "American"? They're also always from the same genre. I tend to think of many country as being very small-town American in their songs--that's actually a selling point for me when I'm listening to the Dixie Chicks and Carrie Underwood; they sing about lives that are just so different from mine, in their small-town-get-married-young-birth-two-kids-and-church-every-Sunday way.

I suggest burning a few cds of your list and circulating them. I like it!

petpluto said...

Yeah, I was trying to pick classically American artists for some of them, both distinctly patriotic ones and ones who don't immediately spring to mind when patriotism is discussed. I think the only non-American on the list is Joni Mitchell, and she's on there twice by virtue of singing one song and writing another.

I watched "Shut Up and Sing" the other night on the Dixie Chicks, and it made me kind of want to get some of their music. Some of it is so country it makes my head hurt, but other songs -the last song of the documentary for one- I really enjoy. Plus, "Goodbye Earl" is one of those incredible songs that I absolutely have to have and just haven't gotten around to buying yet.

I'm planning on doing something like burning some cds; that is, if I'm motivated enough to do that!