If you need a playlist for your Independence Day gatherings, look no further! Our guest writer, Emily, has made a list of all the songs you need to get your patriotic heart swelling with pride for the USA! Read about a few of them below, and then make sure to click the link at the end for the full playlist on YouTube!
God Bless the U.S.A.- Lee Greenwood
I’m pretty sure this is the first song everyone listens to on the Fourth of July, and if it isn’t, it should be! This song was written and performed by Lee Greenwood. He first released the song on his album You’ve Got a Good Love Comin’ in 1984. After different events in America’s history over the past 40 years, the song has been rereleased and gained more and more popularity. There have been four music videos released for this song! In 1984, 1991, 2001, and most recently in 2020.
In this song, Greenwood sings about if he woke up one day and had lost everything. If he had to start all over, with just his family, he thinks it would be okay, as long as he wakes up in the USA.
He starts the song with these words:
If tomorrow all the things were gone
I worked for all my life
And I had to start again
With just my children and my wife
I'd thank my lucky stars
To be livin' here today
'Cause the flag still stands for freedom
And they can't take that away
And then he belts out the chorus that you can’t help but sing along to at the top of your lungs:
And I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I'd gladly stand up
Next to you and defend her still today
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
God bless the USA
Only in America- Brooks & Dunn
This song was written by Kix Brooks (½ of Brooks & Dunn), Don Cook, and Ronnie Rogers. It was released in June of 2001, and reached #1 on Billboard Hot Country during the week of October 27, 2001. Although released months prior to 9/11, this song gained popularity along with many songs written and released after the attacks. The song is about the day to day lives of Americans living out the American Dream- from a school bus driver observing the dreams and lives of each of her children, to newlyweds departing their wedding with the decision to chase their dreams in LA, or go back home to Oklahoma and start their new life.
The chorus sings,
Only in America, dreamin’ in red, white, and blue,
Only in America, where we dream as big as we want to.
We all get a chance, everybody gets to dance,
Only in America
I was 9 years old when this song came out. I’m not sure if anyone else can relate, but when my cousins and my sister and I (5 girls) got together, we always put on a show- a choreographed dance to a variety of country songs (This is a story and song for another day, but Goodbye Earl was our #1 hit!) Only in America is one that I vividly remember dancing to while wearing our annual Old Navy flag t-shirts. There’s some 90’s nostalgia for you :)
Made in America- Toby Keith
This song was released in June 2011 as the first single off of Toby Keith’s 2011 album Clancy’s Tavern. It was written by Toby Keith, Bobby Pinson, and Scott Reeves and it reached number 1 on Billboard's Hot Country list the week of October 15, 2011.
Toby Keith is, without a doubt, one of the most patriotic artists in country music. He loves his country and isn’t afraid to defend it. In fact, he almost left this song off of his album because of the amount of patriotic songs he had already recorded. In this song, he sings about his father, a farmer and retired Marine, and his mother, a school teacher, and their pride for their country. The chorus sings,
He’s got the red, white,
and blue flyin’ high on the farm
Semper fi tattooed on his left arm
spends a little more in the store
for a tag in the back that says U.S.A.
They love and support their country by buying American made products and flying the flag proudly. This song is always a must for a 4th of July playlist!
Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly- Aaron Tippin
This song was written by Aaron Tippin, Kenny Beard, and Casey Beathard for his 2000 album People Like Us, but it didn’t end up on the record. Just a year later, he realized there may have been a reason. He said of the song, “But now, I know exactly why it didn’t. It had a bigger purpose.” Just days following the September 11 attacks, Tippin went into the studio to record this song and soon after, filmed the video which highlights various locations around New York City, including the remaining rubble from the fallen towers. He ended up putting the song on his 2002 album Stars and Stripes. The single peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot Country chart, held from the #1 spot by Alan Jackson’s Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).
He opens the song by singing,
Well if you ask me where I come from
Here's what I tell everyone
I was born by God's dear grace
In an extraordinary place
Where the stars and stripes and the eagle fly
He continues on throughout the song singing about his pride in our country and in the Stars and Stripes. It’s a wonderful song that I still love to listen to 20 years later.
Home- Dierks Bentley
This song may not be the first song you think of for a Patriotic Playlist, but I love it. It paints a beautiful picture of our Home- America. Everyone in this country may have a different view of what home is, but that’s what makes America so great. It’s filled with all sorts of different people with different views and different hopes and dreams. Sometimes it is good to remember that THAT is what makes America so wonderful.
One verse says,
Free, nothing feels like free
Though it sometimes means
We don't get along
'Cause same, no we're not the same
But that's what makes us strong
I love that this song celebrates America and reminds us that it’s okay to be different!
One verse also sings about the beginning of our country:
Brave, gotta call it brave
To chase that dream across the sea
Names, then they signed their names
For something they believed
Now that’s a song for Independence Day! This song was written by Dierks Bentley, Dan Wilson, and Brett Beavers after the 2011 Tucson, Arizona shooting. Dierks is from Arizona and this was his and his co-writers’ way of processing the events. One critic, Deborah Evans Price, put it perfectly: “The lyrics paint a picturesque portrait of our country’s beauty and strength, while the melody wraps around the listener like an autumn sunset.” I couldn’t agree more. This is such a great song and deserves its spot on every patriotic playlist.
Ragged Old Flag- Johnny Cash
Rounding out this list is not quite a song, but more a poem. Johnny Cash wrote this song in 1974 during a politically tense time in America, as a way to remind people of the goodness of Americans and to have faith in our country. The song is sung as a story, typical of Cash’s writing. He sings of a man visiting a town and remarking on the “ragged old flag.” A local begins to tell the man all that the flag has been through and how proud they are to have it in their town. He tells of things that have happened to American flags throughout time in our country, as if it has happened to their own flag in this little town, commenting that for all she’s been through, she’s really not all that ragged after all.
He ends the song with these words:
And she’s getting threadbare and wearing thin
But she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in
‘Cause she’s been through fire before
And I believe she can take a whole lot more
So we raise her up every morning
We take her down every night
We don't let her touch the ground and we fold her up right
On second thought, I do like to brag
'Cause I'm mighty proud of that ragged old flag
Chills. If you haven’t heard this before, or even if it’s been a while, be sure to listen to it this Fourth of July. Even though this song was written almost 50 years ago, I believe it’s just as, if not more, relevant today than it was then.
These are just a few of the songs on my Patriotic Playlist. Click here for a playlist of my favorites!