July 4, 2006

“Monday” Music Roundup, holiday edition

I did have something else in mind for the Monday Music Roundup this week, but had a flash of inspiration while I was doing a 4-mile run this morning for the 4th of July (yeah, towards the end of the fourth mile I was wishing the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 3rd, or even 2nd for that matter). This being American Independence Day, I wanted to post a few songs that, for no specific reason, evoke America for me. Some of these are loose associations, but I think you’ll enjoy.

American Pie
Don McLean

When I was a kid and discovered this song, it all seemed SO epic, SO meaningful to me, recreating in song a world which I knew nothing about. I instantly had to learn every single word so I could sing along (still can). In a way, it is epic – collecting memories from an American childhood in the ’50s, and how that innocence was interrupted on “The Day The Music Died,” (when Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Richie Valens died in a plane crash). It’s a fabulous collections of some of the moments that make us what we are.

We Didn’t Start The Fire
Billy Joel

Ditto with Billy Joel seeming terribly meaningful in this song to my ten-year-old self as Joel tries to encapsulate 50 years of world history in one passionate song (although a bit enigmatic: I still don’t know, exactly, what “the fire” is). I can remember singing along passionately “ROCK AND ROLL, COLA WARS, I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!” This is serious stuff. It’s like a history lesson set to music. This version from the new 12 Gardens Live CD.

American Boy
Chris Isaak
“I’m the original American boy,” Isaak croons in this charmer bit of retro Americana rock. Isaak is fun because he doesn’t take himself too seriously, as anyone who has seen him in concert can attest to. He is a holdover of the days of American ’50s and ’60s rock, a la Roy Orbison or even a bit of Elvis. He embodies a lost musical era in the present day with suavity and panache. From 2002′s Always Got Tonight.

Jack & Diane
John Mellencamp
Little ditty, ’bout Jack & Diane . . . two American kids growin’ up in the heartland. And thus begins another classic, epic piece of modern American rock epitomization of life as a teenager in the USA. I love the handclaps and the lyrics of nostalgia, with that guitar riff just makes me feel like I understand the world he is trying to capture. “So let it rock, let it roll . . .”

American Life in the Summertime
Francis Dunnery
I have no idea how this came into my collection, but as hokey as it is, it is also lighthearted and upbeat, and you’ve gotta love the chorus: “Let’s go drink ’til the beer runs dry (American life in the summertime) . . . You know the girl you want is such a waste of time (American life in the summertime).” Excellent summertime anthem when you don’t need to take yourself so seriously.

The Star-Spangled Banner
Sufjan Stevens
But of course, when you do want to get a little more serious and introspective, Sufjan Stevens is your man. Heralding a new brand of patriotic music, Sufjan combines gentle guitar plucking, the lyrics we all know and love about our flag, and some new lines about Jesus on the cross, just in keeping with his tendency towards religious themes. It’s the new 4th of July favorite. This live version from his 7/29/05 show at the Bluebird here in Colorado.

Two other excellent Independence Day music posts can be found here and here. And American Girls by Homie can also go on your playlist for today.

Oh, and what a shocker of a World Cup weekend we just had! England, out!? Brazil, out!? My poor predicting causes my downfall as well, I’m down in 5th place. *sigh* But don’t feel sorry for me. Feel sad for the weeping Englishmen. That was heartbreaking! I am in the middle of trying to watch the Italy vs. Germany match today while simultaneously madly preparing for the huge BBQ here tonight (I went a little nuts on eVite and invited, like, everyone). Forza Italia!


  • Nice that you included Francis Dunnery…its a classic song…Happy 4th….now its on to the classic Philly fireworks!

    Bruce — July 4, 2006 @ 6:32 pm

  • A couple more for your list…

    One that definitely fits your theme here is Springsteen’s cover of “This Land Is Your Land,” which can be found on disc 2 of his ’75 to ’85 live album.

    This morning, in honor of the holiday, I played Bruce’s Sandy, Fourth of July.

    Other than the title, it doesn’t particularly have any patriotic connotations. But like some of your choices, it does remind me of being a kid, as I grew up near the Jersey Shore.

    Pete — July 4, 2006 @ 7:11 pm

  • Nice songs except maybe that Billy Joel one but somebody had to protest the Cola Wars.A favorite of mine is 4th of July by X listen

    Philco Brothers — July 4, 2006 @ 8:01 pm

  • American Pie is actually the history of Rock’N'Roll from 1955 up to the time the song was released, i.e. 1970. Apart from the obvious allusion to Buddy Holly, there are also allusions to Elvis (“the king”), Dylan (“the jester in a coat borrowed from James Dean”), the Beatles (“the quartet who practiced in the park” and “the sergeants who played the marching tune”), the Byrds, the Rolling Stones at Altamont, and Janice Joplin (“the girl who sang the blues”) among many others. (Let me know if you want to know more.)

    symonpark — July 5, 2006 @ 3:12 am

  • I believe the fire that Billy Joel sings about is a metaphor for the insanity of the 20th century from his birth in 1949 to the recording of the song in 1989.

    God knows the fire still burns.

    Dan — July 5, 2006 @ 2:34 pm

  • Billy didn’t start the fire, but God knows, the world revolves around the Baby Boomers and their idyllic ways, which certainly fan the flames of hypocrisy.
    I cannot stomach Billy Joel. Especially THAT song. “Don’t blame the Boomers! It’s not our fault”

    Anonymous — July 6, 2006 @ 12:45 pm

  • I can’t stomach Billy either but I do know Social Studies teachers who have used the Fire song sucessfully covering the Cold War in middle school classes.

    Dexter — July 7, 2006 @ 9:41 am

  • I like that Billy Joel song and though I’m certainly not above slamming Boomers, Joel is speaking of each respective generation in that song. The children of each generation did not cause the problems they were born into, but they usually are a big part of correcting them. The song is a tribute to the energy and idealism of youth in general, not a particular generation because the events cited in the song span several generations.

    David — December 13, 2006 @ 8:26 am

Comments RSS

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Subscribe to this tasty feed.
I tweet things. It's amazing.

Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

View all Interviews → View all Shows I've Seen →