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.
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“
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.
“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“
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“
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“
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.
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!