It’s Independence Day again. For many people, all it means is fireworks, barbecues, baseball, beer, and a day off work. For many others, it means so much more.
Whether you’re spending it in the backyard by the pool or inside watching The Patriot or the History Channel (if it even shows any actual history-related programming anymore), you’re going to need some good music playing in the back. Or even at night while watching the fireworks, I never understood why organizers don’t blast some all-American tunes while spectators watch the show.
Either way, below is the list of my “Top 10 Independence Day Songs” playlist that I crank up ever year while the fireworks are on display. I’m not talking about the same ol’ “Stars and Stripes Forever” or “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” we’ve been hearing those since first grade. I’m talking about the new generation hits that are essential to any Independence Day celebration:
1. “They’re Coming to America”by Neil Diamond
A classic. It reminds us what an amazing land of opportunity this country truly is and how so many people from so many generations all over the world are willing to risk everything to come here and start a new life. It also reminds us how so many of America’s hard working contributors are immigrants who came here to bust their ass just to live the American dream. My own father is one of these people, so it strikes very close to home for me.
2. “Born Free”by Kid Rock
Speaking of my father, this song reminds me of how lucky I am to be born an American. Although my father is very proud of his heritage and his people’s history, he left Greece to be educated here, embark on his medical career as a doctor here (where he could practice free market medicine, not European socialized medicine back home), and raise his family here. And only when one knows this country’s history and all the blood and treasure that were sacrificed during such a profound revolution can one develop such an appreciation to be born here. It’s no wonder Gov. Mitt Romney chose this to be his 2012 campaign theme song.
3. “This is Our Country” by John Mellencamp
This song reminds us of all the diverse and beautiful landscapes this country has to offer. It’s amazing how many different historical monuments, cultures, and natural wonders that are scattered throughout this enormous land. I’ll never forget a theater class I took in college where we learned how to mimic so many different regional dialects (accents) that exist in this country. Short of travel, that alone was telling enough of how many diverse people make up this nation.
4. “Living in America” by James Brown
Come on, how can you not listen to this on the 4th? Yes, I’m sure most of us think of James Brown’s performance and Apollo Creed’s entrance from Rocky IV when we here this (I do too) but it’s still a must have on Independence Day. I dare you to listen to it and not want to dance with it!
5. “I Am a Real American – Hulk Hogan’s Theme” by Rick Derringer
Seriously? Yeah, I’m serious. OK, I know it’s a little corny, but just listen to it while you’re watching the fireworks live. Really. Do it. There’s something about listening to this one in front of the “ba-boom, ba-boom” that makes it feel all the more awesome. It still makes me want to rip my shirt open and pose along.
6. “God Bless America” by Céline Dion
Huh? Céline Dion??? But she’s Canadian! Yes, I’m aware. Yet she does the best version of “God Bless America” I’ve ever heard. There are others that deserve honorable mention, like Whitney Houston and Martina McBride, but none beat Dion’s rendition if you ask me. Simply beautiful.
7. “America the Beautiful” by Ray Charles
Again, there have been several artists who have done this one as well, but nothing comes close to Ray Charles’ rendition. This is a perfect last call song, where you can sit on a swing bench with a loved one or just suck back on a couple cold ones on the roof top with your buddies.
8. “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood
Another classic. I’ve been listening to this one since I was a child. It makes you take stock of all the men and women who have served in our armed forces to protect our rights and freedoms as well as provide our security. Not just combat ops, I also think of all the humanitarian aid and peacekeeping missions we’ve contributed to the world when I hear this one. Regardless of what critics say, America has a big heart and charitable generosity with wealth like no other country.
9. “Courtesy Of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” by Toby Keith
I knew I better throw a country song on this last for all the country music fans out there and what better choice than this one? While Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” may remind all Americans what makes this country so great, Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” reminds everyone else what this country can and will do. It tells all hostile powers of the world that we won’t be intimidated, we won’t be broken, and we won’t be quiet. This song definitely flexes America’s muscles, which leads us to our last song…
10. “America, F*ck Yeah! – Team America: World Police Theme” by Trey Parker & Matt Stone
Hey, it’s always good to laugh at ourselves a little! The infamous theme song from Team America: World Police always provides a fun and goofy way to end the night. You gotta admit, there are some pretty funny jabs in there that can even make the most serious of us crack a smile, but you may want to wait till the kids are in bed before you play this one!
Happy Independence Day everyone!