Depending on the type of crowd in attendance at your 4th of July party, barbecue or picnic, here are 10 songs which fit nicely with the occasion of Independence Day. Of course if you have a diverse group of family in age and musical tastes, you’re not going to please eveyone with every selection, so I made the list an eclectic blend of different styles and genres with none likely to offend to the point of Roseanne Barr’s offkey version of the National Anthem at a baseball game a few years back. here goes:
For the older members on your gues tlist you might start out with instrumentals such as John Phillip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever. It may not thrill the younger patrons, but it shouldn’t make them run for their Ipod necessarily either.
Then you might segue into 4th of July sond selections a little more, if not contemporary, at least not as old-timey. Something like Pater, Paul and Mary’s version of Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land. I had the pleasure of seeing Peter, Paul, and Mary a few years ago at at the local college and they can still harmonize with the best of them. Most everyone is familiar with the song, a smorgasbord of Americana with a message.
Then maybe to make sure the younger members of your 4th of July party are paying attention you might play Van Halen’s Dreams. The song itself is not necessarily patriotic-themed, but the video for the song did feature the Blue Angels. if you have never seen an airshow featuring the Blue Angels, by the way, I would recommend you do so at the first opportunity.
Of course, this is the Sammy Haggar era of Van Halen, not David Lee Roth. I don’t think D.L. Roth could have pulled off the soaring vocals for this tune, anyhow. Just try not to crank up the volume to the point that Grandma, Gramps and Uncle Herbert’s hearing aids are blown out. This song is what rock and roll dreams are made of and a fine addition to your 4th of July playlist.
At this point, you might want to throw a bone to any gray panthers in your group again with maybe John Phillip Sousa’s version of Anchors Aweigh, the theme of the U.S. Navy. Of course, if there any ex-Marines in your group, be prepared for a little controversy. Those military themes are still stirring to most Americans I would guess, and this is one of the better ones.
The you might want to throw the guests at your 4th of July barbecue a curve and throw in James Brown’s Living In America. Smokestack, fatback, many miles of railroad track, all night radio, keep on runnin’ through your rock and roll soul, all night diners keep you awake, on black coffee and a hard roll. There is also a line in the song to the effect that you might not be looking for the promised land, but you might find it anyway. And this 4th of July song will give you the directions. What music goes better with barbecue than this James Brown tune?
If you’re not sick of the John Mellencamp song from the Chevy commercials by now, This Is Our Country would be a nice addition to your 4th of July picnic, party ofr barbecue. You only hear snippets of the song on the ads. It kind of combines the folk rock of the 60’s with some thumpin’ bass lines to boot. I’ve never been that big a fan of Mellencamp but this song is catchy and a slice of Americana.
The Brotherhood of Man’s United we Stand is not really a patriotic song per se. The tune is more about a couple trying to hold their relationship together, but the message is the same. United we stand, divided we fall, if our backs should ever be against the wall, we’ll be together, together you and I. It’s a message the Democrats better learn if they hope to recapture the White House in the fall, but mainly it’s a message for our country, one that has been delivered at least as far back as Patrick Henry. In this age of me-firstism running rampant, we would all do well to remember this message whether on the 4th of July or any time.
Here is where I would insert Jimi Hendrix’ instrumental version of The Star Bangled Banner played at Woodstock. It was controversial at the time, but so what? What was not controversial in the 60’s? Jimi’s version of the song beats most sung versions, especially due to the difficult nature of the song. Hendrix was a veteran, after all.
To calm down any old folks or “purists” in the crowd, (purism is a big waste of time in my book, nothing in this world is completely pure anyway) especially if you have an Air Force man in the family as we do, Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder would be another good military selection. The instrumental version, of course. The song has a great chorus and has been known to make me root for the Air Force academy’s athletic teams as it is used for their fight song. And a great one it is and a nice addition to your 4th of July barbecue, as well.
The musical part of the 4th of July get together would conclude with Brother Ray Charles’ stirring rendition of America The Beautiful. In my opinion, even though the Star Spangled Banner is a great song in it’s own right, the National Anthem should be this song. The Banner was copied after an old English pub song after all. America The Beautiful embodies the greatness of this country better than any other song in my book. Even though we have had (and currently have) boneheaded leadership at times in the nation’s history and have our warts, how any American can hear this song and not be stirred is beyond me.
From the first line speaking of spacious skies and amber waves of grain to the crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea of the first verse, this song, at least some version of it, is a must for any 4th of July at our house. I believe it would be the most important selection at your 4th of July Holiday get together. Brother Ray’s is the best version in my opinion and was saved for last because how could you follow that? I hope these suggestions have been helpful in selectiing your 4th of July music and also hope you and yours have a safe and happy 4th of July three day weekend!