Any true barbecuer knows that good music is essential to an afternoon on the grill. Consider Fourth of July the biggest barbecue in the country, and you better be armed to the teeth with patriotic jams. No, the Star-Spangled Banner doesn't quite cut it.
From the pool to the fireworks, here are a handful of songs that you can't leave off your July 4 playlist.
1. "Ragged Old Flag," Johnny Cash
Is anyone more American than Johnny Cash? The deep-voiced balladeer dives into a story about George Washington, the Alamo and the pride of a small town over wartime snares. Cash's bellowing narrative makes you feel like you're in the middle of a history lesson far more enthralling than what you sat through in high school.
Just the title "Ragged Old Flag" elicits some strong Americana imagery. A day dedicated to our country deserves some country music roots.
2. "Where the Stars and Stripes and Eagles Fly," Aaron Tippin
Yes, it's really country. Yes, it's really awesome. Tippin's whole catalogue can be summed into one massive waving American flag, making the music perfect for Thursday. A marching acoustic guitar suits the motto that "hard work pays off like it should," and there's even allusions to the Statue of Liberty.
Country doesn't cut it for everyone, but you'd have to make an exception or two for the Fourth.
3. "This Land is Your Land," Woodie Guthrie
A folk classic that still resonates today. Though you've likely endured repetitions of it since grade school, "This Land is Your Land" has enough of a quirk, charm and simplistic message to enjoy on Independence Day.
Guthrie wrote the song in response to "God Bless the USA," which he saw as uninspired and unconvincing. The song's embedded in the Library of Congress as well as some of your fondest memories. It's a no-brainer.
4. Anything off 'Magna Carta Holy Grail'
Hip-hop is perhaps the most prevalent genre in today's mainstream music industry, and Jay-Z embodies America as well as any other rapper. The dude made the American Dream happen--starting from nothing in Brooklyn and ascending to platinum recording artist and katrillionaire businessman. Jay's new album has been played close to the chest, but it'll dominate American radio all summer.
Hov's music is nothing but extravagant toasts to the possibilities of life in this country and the unique culture we continue to cultivate in the 21st century. It's certainly worth a listen, Samsung users.
5. "Born in the USA," Bruce Springsteen
Duh. The crashing drums sound like exploding fireworks; the raspy voice and home-grown lyrics sound like everything America's about. "Born in the USA" began as a rally cry for patriotism in the late Cold War era but has since evolved into a general celebration of the country.
Springsteen's known as a blue collar hero, and what better way to honor America than with one of its own?