Songs of these States

We’ve listed the greatest songs dedicated (in support or protest) of our land of the free to either tug your American heart strings or rock your red, white and blue world at your Fourth of July BBQ. We promise no Toby Keith or Lee Greenwood.

Mark Brenden

Here at A&E, we labor under the âÄúIn Rock We TrustâÄù creed. ThatâÄôs why weâÄôre going to use Uncle SamâÄôs 11-score and 14th b-day as an excuse to rock out to the greatest songs written in his honor; and to get sauced up. We compiled a list of the 10 greatest odes to the gritty sea-to-shining-sea muse to accompany your beer chugginâÄô and hot dog slamminâÄô. Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood were left out due to their overexposure of the cheese machine. Paul McCartney and John Lennon didnâÄôt make the list because theyâÄôre red coats. Honorable mentions included James BrownâÄôs âÄúLiving in America,âÄù Miley CyrusâÄô âÄúParty in the USAâÄù and MadvillainyâÄôs âÄúAmericaâÄôs Most Blunted.âÄù 10) âÄúStrange FruitâÄù âÄî Billie Holiday This chilling traditional about Southern lynchings will likely have you solemnly reflecting instead of r-o-c-k-ing in the USA, but its brilliance is too big to overlook. Billie HolidayâÄôs haunted singing of âÄúSouthern trees bear strange fruit / Blood on the leaves / Blood at the rootâÄù will have the notches of your spine creaking like a hardwood floor. 9) âÄúFortunate SonâÄù âÄî Credence Clearwater Revival âÄúStop! Hey, whatâÄôs that soundâÄù be damned, âÄúFortunate SonâÄù is the best protest song of the âÄôNam era. The âÄúup yoursâÄù lyrics on top of the bayou guitars and John FogertyâÄôs unmistakable howling make for a timeless rock âÄònâÄô roll proletariat kick in the ass. 8) âÄúAmericaâÄù âÄî Simon & Garfunkel This song is the Great American Novel in three-and-a-half minutes. SimonâÄôs final image encompasses the sacred American itch as well as Kerouac or Kesey ever did: âÄúCounting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike / TheyâÄôve all gone to look for America.âÄù 7) âÄúBorn in the USAâÄù âÄî Bruce Springsteen People often mistake the BossâÄôs intangible romance-magic as corniness. Despite Ronald Reagan and âÄô80s radioâÄôs efforts to turn this V8 engine of a song into a cheese train, its anthemic, Tom Joad- esque machismo roars on into the Great Recession and beyond. 6) âÄúWhatâÄôs GoinâÄô OnâÄù âÄî Marvin Gaye Although âÄúLetâÄôs Get It OnâÄù has been historically more influential toward American politics than âÄúWhatâÄôs GoinâÄô On,âÄù the latter is arguably more thoughtful. ItâÄôs the kind of song that achieves the impossible feat of yielding social change and bedroom promiscuities in the same groove. 5) âÄúChange Gonna ComeâÄù âÄî Sam Cooke Prophetically laying down a blueprint for a campaign strategy 44 years after its release, âÄúChange Gonna ComeâÄù is as soulful as it is politically conscious. ThatâÄôs what distances it from Phil Ochs and other trick-turners who sold protest songs on a stick âÄî âÄúChange Gonna ComeâÄù has the musical walk to back up the political talk. 4) âÄúThe Times They Are A-ChanginâÄô âÄù âÄî Bob Dylan ThereâÄôs not much that hasnâÄôt been said about this mid-1960s window rattler. ItâÄôs a union song with a message that doesnâÄôt age, and it is DylanâÄôs emergence as a dirty-overalls Biblical prophet, assuring the down-and-outs that âÄúthe first ones now will later be last.âÄù 3) âÄúFight the PowerâÄù âÄî Public Enemy Like âÄúFortunate SonâÄù and âÄúBorn in the USAâÄù reminded us, patriotic songs need not be love letters to the Home of the Brave. They can be one giant fist in the air like Flava Flav and Chuck DâÄôs 1989 masterpiece. A center metaphor in whatâÄôs perhaps the greatest movie of its time, âÄúDo the Right Thing,âÄù âÄúFight the PowerâÄù could be the loudest, brightest and most powerful firework that you light off Sunday. 2) âÄúBlowinâÄô in the WindâÄù âÄî Bob Dylan Displaying the same effect of dusty truth-grabbing as âÄúTimes,âÄù âÄúBlowinâÄô âÄù asks questions instead of giving answers (for those, of course, are âÄúa-blowinâÄô in the windâÄù). 1) âÄúThis Land is Your LandâÄù âÄî Woody Guthrie The version of the song you sang in elementary school choir programs isnâÄôt the song that is number one on this list. No, our numero uno is the resounding cry of freedom that was either too communistic or too badass for 1940s radio, containing leftist lyrics that were omitted from the radio version of the song. âÄúThis Land is Your LandâÄù is the grandfather of all patriotic songs, and it holds our number-one slot because, more than the others, it shaped the identity of the country it portrays. A&E would deem it treason to not spin this one on Uncle SamâÄôs b-day if we believed in treason.