Independence Day is about celebrating our freedoms, liberties and civil rights, so if you haven’t exactly gone out of your way to shoot fireworks on past Fourth of July holidays, you can be forgiven.
The Fourth of July is about backyard barbecues, and while firing up your Vogner Char-King Imperiale, you’ll probably also want to fire up the stereo and remember what Independence Day was once really about. Here are some Fourth of July songs for your playlist. Word of warning, my fellow Americans: You won’t find any Lee Greenwood or Trace Adkins or even Bruce Springstreen on this list. And as you celebrate the Fourth of July this year, allow me to leave you with this thought: Iraq didn’t fight in our war for independence; why are we fighting in theirs?
“The New World”-X
Yeah, yeah, I know. X happens to have a song called “Fourth of July” and it is one of their most heart wrenching accomplishments, but there is a section of lyric contained in the song “The New World” that, though written in the early 80s, is even more fitting and is especially fitting for the irony of celebrating all that Independence Days entails. “It was better before, before they voted for what’s his name.” Who can’t think of George W. Bush upon hearing those lyrics?
“This Land is Your Land”-Woody Guthrie.
My comrade Gregoriancant wrote a wonderful article detailing the background of this song that has been a staple for oblivious shooting range patriots for over half a century. In fact, like almost everything else that Woody Guthrie wrote, “This Land is Your Land” was intended as a criticism of the worst excesses of those who would corrupt the promise made by those sweaty gentlemen who signed Thomas Jefferson’s declaration all those years ago. Consider these original lyrics that Woody was far too smart to leave in the final version of the song:
“Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing —
God blessed America for me.
One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the Relief Office I saw my people —
As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if
God blessed America for me.”
As you listen to “This Land is Your Land” on July Fourth try to picture all those puffed up conservatives who have claimed Woody as their own listening to the song with these lyrics.
“Know Your Rights”-The Clash.
You have the right not to be killed. You have the right to food money. And you have the right to free speech…as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it. Funny how the outrage of twenty-five years ago is even more fitting today. Six steps back, six steps back, six steps back.
“The Price of Oil”-Billy Bragg
OK, so he’s a Brit; Billy Bragg has still been writing songs of protest against Bush and the Iraq War longer and better than any of his American counterparts. And what could be more appropriate as you fire up the propane grill after having just spent $70 bucks filling up your VW Bug with gas than a song that proudly proclaims what John McCain just now finally got around to admitting: part of the reason why the Iraq war was initiated in the first place had to do with oil. Not by lowering the price of oil by virtue of taking advantage of the vast deposits of Iraqi oil (anyone care to explain how gas got higher despite having Iraq as a virtual 51st state?), but by using the war to pump up prices. Try these lyrics on for size, especially you shooting range patriots:
“Saddam killed his own people
just like general Pinochet
and once upon a time both these evil men
were supported by the U.S.A.
And whisper it, even Bin Laden
once drank from America’s cup
just like that election down in Florida
this shit doesn’t all add up.”
“I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore”-Phil Ochs.
Bruce Springsteen wishes he were Phil Ochs. But he ain’t. You could do far worse than have a Fourth of July playlist dominated by the late Mr. Ochs, but this song really says it all. Can you think of many more lyrics that perfectly encapsulate the last six years:
“It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with the sabre and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all.”
“Suspicious Eyes”-The Rakes
This is the third time I’ve mentioned this song in an article and I won’t stop until everyone hears it. It is the best song of the decade and will remain so. It is a song is about the paranoia that creeps into everyday life in the western world. Guess what people? You have a much better chance of being struck by lightning than ever meeting up with a terrorist on the subway.
“Bring Back the Draft”-Elmer Creek Conspiracy.
Ever wonder why there was such an outcry against Vietnam, but not against Iraq? Four words: There ain’t no draft. This song is a perfect reminder on the 4th of July that some things are worth fighting. And so many other things aren’t. And if there was a draft today, the Bush and Dick in the White House would have been torn from limb to limb years ago. And, frankly, I’d enjoy roasting their flesh on my grill, though I wouldn’t even feed their sorry carcasses to a junkyard dog. John McCain, maybe, not not a dog.
“You know we really don’t care what’s going on overseas
Cause we’re over here living the life of ease
As long as it don’t affect me or you
We really don’t care what they do
But all that would change in the drop of a hat
With one word from those Washington bureaucrats
That they’re taking your sons, gonna give them a gun
And send them off to do the dirty work they’ve begun.”
“Wakko’s America”-The Animaniacs.
Hey, let’s face it, you don’t have to be an oblivious shooting range patriot to not know your state capitals. Heck, most people today probably can’ even name all the states. This catchy little ditty should put an end to that, at least if you listen to it every day.
“The Presidents Song”-The Simpsons.
Take a moment to remember the mediocre presidents this July Fourth.
“We are the mediocre presidents.
You won’t find our faces on dollars or on cents!
There’s Taylor, there’s Tyler,
There’s Fillmore and there’s Hayes.
There’s William Henry Harrison;
[Harrison]: I died in thirty days”!
Just think; George W. Bush wishes he could be on this list. How sad. Instead he’s on that other list that includes Herbert Hoover, James Buchanan and Warren G. Harding.
“Independence Day”-The Comsat Angels.
There are a lot of songs titled “Independence Day” and though this has nothing to do with the Fourth of July or barbecues or fireworks or picnics, the words “Independence Day” are repeated in the refrain. Not to mention it has these lyrics, which I think we can all relate to on the Fourth of July, October 7 or January 22.
“I can’t stand up and I can’t sit down
’cause a great big problem stop me in my tracks
I can’t relax ’cause I haven’t done a thing
and I can’t do a thing ’cause I can’t relax.”