July 4 music thread

My favorite rendition of the national anthem.

Jose Feliciano in the 1968 World Series was good too. You know, Jose Feliciano, you got no complaints.

What’s your favorite rendition?

And what are your favorite patriotic songs/songs that talk about being an American/songs that mention fourth of July? I love “Body of an American” and I like that John Cougar Mellencamp song. And of course “Lift Every Voice“.

Does “City of New Orleans Count”?

74 replies
  1. 1
    divF says:

    Ray Charles singing “America the Beautiful”. Doesn’t mention 4th of July, but to my mind at the top of the list of patriotic (in the best sense of the term) songs. Soulful and loving, with a sense of aspirations not completely fulfilled.

  2. 2
    Bob In Portland says:

    I like X’s “4th of July”.

    Also, a summary of what’s happening in Ukraine by Commie-lover Robert Parry.

  3. 3
    Amir Khalid says:

    This is my favourite song that mentions the Fourth of July. If I’m not mistaken, the performance was from Danny Federici’s farewell appearance with the E Street Band, a month before he died of melanoma, which adds poignance to his sweet and wistful accordion solo.

  4. 4
    sublime33 says:

    Wayne Messmer – NHL All Star Game in Chicago, 1991 shortly after the Good Gulf War broke out. Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvpxVE_kQXg

  5. 5
    Louise says:

    I’m a sentimental fool, so for me it’s Whitney’s Super Bowl SSB performance, now and forever. There’s so much melancholy added to it now, not just because of her death, but because everyone was feeling patriotic, supporting the troops in what we thought was a significant military conflict for us. How quaint.

  6. 6
    cmorenc says:

    My favorite rendition of what would be a vastly more suitable (and singable) national anthem is “America the Beautiful”, as sung by Ray Charles. That tune is far more appropriate to everything that is positive and worthwhile about this country than “Star-Spangled Banner”.

  7. 7
    OldDave says:

    Yes, City of New Orleans counts, at least in my book. It is, after all, according to John Prine the best damned train song ever written.

  8. 8
    raven says:

    This was my favorite. Larry Carlton, a great jazz guitarist, played a close to Hendirx anthem at the Music City Bowl between Bama and Virginia Tech. As soon as he started I looked at my wife and said “these people are going to go nuts”! While the wiki says he was booed, he was slightly but it was hard to boo the anthem. The real killer was when the Tech band sang it a capella.

    The 1998 Music City bowl kicked off at 5 p.m. EST on December 29, 1998 at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.[96] At kickoff, the weather was chilly, with 43-degree (6 C) temperatures, 10–15 mph (16–24 km/h) wind, 70 percent humidity, and a sleet/rain mix. As the game progressed, wind-chill temperatures dropped as low as 14 °F (−10 °C).[97] Later accounts described the weather as “horrid”.[98] American General CEO Joe Kelley performed the ceremonial pre-game coin toss to determine first possession. Jazz musician Larry Carlton performed the traditional pre-game playing of the national anthem, but his rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner did not meet with the crowd’s approval, and he was booed

  9. 9
    Linda Featheringill says:

    City of New Orleans is always a good answer.

    What was the question again?

  10. 10
    beltane says:

    I’m just not feeling it this year.

  11. 11
    the antibob says:

    @Amir Khalid: Always need a good cry on the 4th. Thanks for the link. No, seriously. A great performance.

  12. 12
    shelley says:

    On TCM today at 4:15, they’re showing ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy.” I do love the scene where he sings that song from ‘ Little Johnny Jones.’ He struts and dances like a proud rooster. Cagney always said that was his favorite movie.

  13. 13
    Bob In Portland says:

    @Amir Khalid: Grew up on the Jersey Shore and Springsteen played the high school dances all around there when I was matriculating and percolating. When the E Street Band first toured (in early 1973) they drove up to Boston and played at a bar somewhere in the Fens. I was stationed at Fort Devens, about forty miles to the west, and when they announced the show on the radio I remembered the name. This was before the “The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle” had been released, and they did “Sandy” and “Wild Billy’s Circus Story” and I was impressed that any rock band that packed an accordion and tuba to play a venue that small (I think there were more people in the band than in the audience) was going to be something.

  14. 14
    dmsilev says:

    Growing up in the Boston area, the 4th for me is irrevocably associated with the 1812 Overture. Despite, or perhaps because, the piece as originally intended had absolutely nothing to do with the US.

  15. 15
    skjellyfetti says:

    Lou Rawls used to sing a lot of the national anthems for the LA Rams back in the early/mid ’70s. Most people bore me to tears singing it but Lou brought class, respect, style & grace to the anthem without getting his ego all caught up in it. He was definitely a class act.

    Plus, I really admire and appreciate anyone who carries themselves lightly enough to poke fun of their own image–such as from this skit from In Living Color with Daman Wayans.

  16. 16
    Nicole says:

    As a Gen-Xer I am partial to Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America.”

  17. 17
    shelley says:

    Also has the song ‘Over There.’ Ya know, when people actually welcomed American intervention.

  18. 18
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    I can’t believe this happened almost twenty years ago. When I heard it in 1995, first I was amazed at the singer, and then I thought, best pure rendition of the National Anthem.

    Also, no mention of the City of New Orleans can be made without referencing its author, Steve Goodman. And once you name Steve Goodman, you have to link to this.

    Finally, if we need a new national anthem, I’d prefer this song.

  19. 19
    Keith P says:

    I like watching this rendition every now and then. I can only imagine seeing it today.

  20. 20
  21. 21
    MikeJ says:

    Driving in the south, the motor’s on fire
    Let’s put it out, before the flames go higher

    We’re an American Band

  22. 22
    raven says:

    @shelley: Someone had to save their asses. Rock of the Marne!

  23. 23
  24. 24
    raven says:

    Do You Remember the Americans” Stills and Manassas

    Hitchhikin’ west on a highway at night
    Tryin’ to get to Frisco lookin’ for my girl
    Here comes a trucker, hope he don’t mind my long curls
    I remember years ago hitchin’ this same road
    Never saw a trucker leave a man out in the cold
    No riders sign on the window never meant a thing
    Nowadays they just roll on lookin’ kind of mean
    Kind of makes me wonder, scratch my head and kick the snow
    Four years of overseas who are these strangers in my home
    Where are the country people does anybody know
    Do you remember the Americans where did they go
    Were they simply bought and sold

  25. 25
    Sunny Raines says:

    Conservatives Make Clean Things Dirty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Auz4jfWWQ2A

  26. 26
    dmsilev says:

    Nothing to do with music, but allow me to share the first paragraph of an …unusual email I just received:

    As sealed in history, people have the destiny that either want or deserve. Because of the protracted servility via inaction by fellow Americans to organized interests on Einstein that have been systematically adapting physical realities to preferred Einsteinian theories for their anti-American self-interests (see the political manipulations at CERN addressed below), while suppressing dissident speeches and qualified inquiries, abusing trillions of dollars of taxpayer money without any serious accountability, and preventing a much needed rebirth of American sciences, technologies and industries in face of astronomical financial deficits and impending environmental upheavals, by praying to be wrong, I fear that America has been doomed.

    One of the authors was

    Luca Petronio
    Editor according to Wikipedia rules.

  27. 27
    Bruuuuce says:

    Woody Guthrie wrote this, by far the most patriotic song I know:

    In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
    By the relief office I seen my people;
    As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
    Is this land made for you and me?

    Nobody living can ever stop me,
    As I go walking that freedom highway;
    Nobody living can ever make me turn back
    This land was made for you and me.

  28. 28
    DissidentFish says:

    Not much of a Paul Simon fan, but I’ll take this American Tune any day. Fun song to sing too if you can figure out a way to deal with the word “rose”.

  29. 29
    MattR says:

    I gotta agree that Marvin Gaye’s version of the anthem is the best. Makes me want to make sweet, sweet love to our country.

    As a novelty, Michael Winslow’s cover of Jimi Hendrix’s version is fun.

  30. 30
    raven says:

    @dmsilev: His name is Luca.

  31. 31
    NotMax says:

    No other votes for “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean?”

  32. 32
    SuperHrefna says:

    My favorite version of the Star-Spangled Banner is Sufjan Stevens’: http://youtu.be/BvBwF4bU9CE He got around its various problems by changing the tune and some of the words.

  33. 33
    hilts says:

    Favorite song with a 4th of July reference


    Favorite song that references Uncle Sam


  34. 34
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @DissidentFish: I have the Mandy Patinkin Yiddish cover version. Very 4th of July…

  35. 35
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    For me these days the American tune is Buffalo Springfield – For What It’s Worth

  36. 36
    SuperHrefna says:

    And the rockets’ red glare, and the bombs in air
    Gave us proof through the night that our flag was still there
    And our flag marked with blood, with the blood of our hands
    And our hands marked with death, with the blood of the man
    And the man on the cross, and the cross on our hearts
    Has it done nothing more, than to drive us apart?

    This bit that Sufjan added seems especially appropriate with all the Christian Culture Warring that is going on right now.

  37. 37
    NotMax says:

    Back at the college radio station, we kept around a single of “The Star-Spangled Banner” released by a well-known orchestra (whose name escapes me), strictly because they got some of the the notes wrong. Never quite understood how the record company had let that one slip through.

  38. 38
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    James Cagney spoke Yiddish fluently (as demonstrated here). He learned it from the kids he grew up with in New York. It reportedly came in quite handy during contract negotiations when the producers would try to talk amongst themselves, not realizing that Cagney understood every word.

  39. 39
    hilts says:

    I’m also partial to these art rock cover versions of songs with America in the title



  40. 40
    Sir Nose'D says:

    The puppet musical “Team America: World Police” had the most patriotic song–America–Fuck Yeah!

    America, FUCK YEAH!
    Coming again, to save the mother fucking day yeah,
    America, FUCK YEAH!
    Freedom is the only way yeah,
    Terrorist your game is through cause now you have to answer too,
    America, FUCK YEAH!
    So lick my butt, and suck on my balls,
    America, FUCK YEAH!
    What you going to do when we come for you now,
    it’s the dream that we all share; it’s the hope for tomorrow


    McDonalds, FUCK YEAH!
    Wal-Mart, FUCK YEAH!
    The Gap, FUCK YEAH!
    Baseball, FUCK YEAH!
    Rock and roll, FUCK YEAH!
    The Internet, FUCK YEAH!
    Slavery, FUCK YEAH!


    Starbucks, FUCK YEAH!
    Disney world, FUCK YEAH!
    Porno, FUCK YEAH!
    Valium, FUCK YEAH!
    Reeboks, FUCK YEAH!
    Fake Tits, FUCK YEAH!
    Sushi, FUCK YEAH!
    Taco Bell, FUCK YEAH!
    Rodeos, FUCK YEAH!
    Bed bath and beyond (Fuck yeah, Fuck yeah)

    Liberty, FUCK YEAH!
    Wax Lips, FUCK YEAH!
    The Alamo, FUCK YEAH!
    Band-aids, FUCK YEAH!
    Las Vegas, FUCK YEAH!
    Christmas, FUCK YEAH!
    Immigrants, FUCK YEAH!
    Popeye, FUCK YEAH!
    Democrats, FUCK YEAH!
    Republicans (fuck yeah, fuck yeah)

  41. 41
    wenchacha says:

    I will always love hearing/seeing Jimi painting/playing/living it at Woodstock. I was too young for Woodstock, but I loved the idea of it. It wasn’t a perfect time, but by FSM I was fired up (pre-tween) by the exuberance of protesting students, and wild new music. My poor older brother tried to buy the Hair album, and didn’t my mom make him return it. I was ready to protest just about any injustice, just take me to it.

    It was a real experience to grow up watching the Viet Nam war every night on television. I wanted the war to be over, although I figured it was okay if the bad guys died. Then My Lai and so many other things.

    My very tragic flaw is that I believe if somebody could come up with the right words, the right speech, the right gesture, that would turn on a light in everybody’s head. We know it can be done for short bursts of massive effort: after 9/11, Katrina, flooding river banks each were met with thousands of people, ready to help other human beings. Like it mattered to care for others. The same happens all over the globe. We do have an instinct to survive. Contrary to the beliefs of some, no man is an island.

    If something less than absolute certain destruction to the planet’s civilization could bring people together, I’d almost wish for it.

  42. 42
    taylormattd says:


  43. 43
    Davis X. Machina says:

    My very tragic flaw is that I believe if somebody could come up with the right words, the right speech, the right gesture, that would turn on a light in everybody’s head.

    Somebody did. They shot him.

  44. 44
    taylormattd says:

    Here’s a link to Whitney, without the scrolling text intro that is on so many videos:


  45. 45
    Bruuuuce says:

    @efgoldman: You could make the argument, I suppose. It’s no surprise that Prine went the way he did, considering that City of New Orleans was written by his very close friend, Steve Goodman.

  46. 46
    NotMax says:


    Chattanooga Choo Choo.

  47. 47
    Bruuuuce says:

    I could live with either City… or Casey Jones, but I’d add Orange Blossom Special and Take the A Train to the list of contenders.

  48. 48
    eemom says:

    Happy 4th y’all.

    I love Arlo Guthrie’s version of City of New Orleans. And John Prine.

  49. 49
    moderateindy says:

    City of N.O. must count, as it was part of last night’s fireworks display. (It was Willie Nelson’s version).
    I like X’s Fourth of July, so much so, that I played it Tuesday at open mic night.
    Not about America, or 4th of July, but IMO best song about freedom is Dylan’s, “Chimes of Freedom”. Springsteen does a nice cover of it as well.

  50. 50
    WereBear says:

    @Mnemosyne: He was such an awesome fella. Truly a microcosm of the early 20th Century immigrant experience… all by himself.

  51. 51
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @efgoldman: Good times, ancient days. I watched that ’76 show from the overlook on Chickatawbut Rd in the Blue Hills Reservation — pulled over on the way back from work. Everyone I knew was on the Esplanade… not me.

    My nephew is in the National Guard — 1st Battalion 101st Field Artillery — the unit that mans the cannon for the Pops. He’s not sure whom you have to know to get that detail, though…

  52. 52
    drkrick says:

    Bruce Hornsby and Branford Marsalis at the game where Cal Ripken broke Gehrig’s record.


    I’ll need to dig out my tape from that night and upload a better transfer.

    Whitney at Super Bowl XXV was pretty great too, but my favorite part was when Dan Dierdorf responded with something like “I don’t want to say the NFL season is too long, but Saddam Hussein was our friend when these teams opened training camp.”

  53. 53
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    I wouldn’t think of disagreeing with John Prine, especially because “City of New Orleans” is such a great song. So I offer Tom Rush – Panama Limited as maybe the second-best train song – and some damned good guitar pickin’..

  54. 54
    Bruuuuce says:

    @efgoldman: Why not? It’s not a cross-country trip, but (having taken it end to end several times), it’s not an insignificant ride.

  55. 55
    gogol's wife says:


    I love that scene! Cagney is so cute.

  56. 56
    Bobby Thomson says:

    If you take Mellencamp at his word, he has accidentally written some pretty deep songs. I always took that song and Jack and Diane ironically, but supposedly neither one is intended to be downbeat.

  57. 57
    OldDave says:


    Not the Dead’s Casey Jones?

    Oh, that’s good. Still, I tend to go with Mr. Prine’s opinion on the matter. ;-)

    (edit) – the other suggestions are also excellent. I guess I have a love of train songs. Maybe it’s time to cut a mix CD for the car…

  58. 58
    M. Bouffant says:

    @NotMax: Our program director (KWCW-FM, Walla Walla) literally scratched the living crap out of Hendrix’s Woodstock “S-SB” (vinyl) so no smarty-pants college D.J.s could play it if they were signing off.

    (Early ’70s in the rural heartland, there may have been complaints from the town.)

  59. 59
    Bruuuuce says:

    @M. Bouffant: I’m not very religious, but I’d call that a serious sin.

  60. 60
    WereBear says:

    @Bobby Thomson: If you take Mellencamp at his word, he has accidentally written some pretty deep songs. I always took that song and Jack and Diane ironically, but supposedly neither one is intended to be downbeat.

    @M. Bouffant: @NotMax: Our program director (KWCW-FM, Walla Walla) literally scratched the living crap out of Hendrix’s Woodstock “S-SB” (vinyl) so no smarty-pants college D.J.s could play it if they were signing off.

    (Early ’70s in the rural heartland, there may have been complaints from the town.)

    Yes, the Midwest has quite the dual nature.

    On the one hand, wholesome all-American values from our prairie past, like Harry Truman.

    On the other, screaming psychosis from the incredible cultural pressures that compress and distort one’s true personality. Like Ed Gein.

  61. 61
    trollhattan says:

    Since everybody knows the original, here’s an alternate take on “4th of July”

    Dave Alvin

    A train song.

    John Hiatt “Train to Birmingham”

  62. 62
    trollhattan says:

    Los Lobos + my favorite singing redhead. Recording could be better but a fine performance.

    “One Time One Night” (in America)

  63. 63
    phein39 says:

    Leonard Cohen, “Democracy”:

    Democracy is coming, to the USA

    . . . .

    It’s coming to America first,
    the cradle of the best and of the worst.
    It’s here they got the range
    and the machinery for change
    and it’s here they got the spiritual thirst.

    . . .

    I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
    I love the country but I can’t stand the scene.
    And I’m neither left or right
    I’m just staying home tonight,
    getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
    But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags
    that Time cannot decay,
    I’m junk but I’m still holding up
    this little wild bouquet:
    Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

  64. 64
    worn says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: No way can I let all this talk about Steve Goodman’s great song go by without a shout out to a treasure from my home state, the great Jerry Reed.

  65. 65
    David Koch says:

    @Mnemosyne: that’s hilarious when he says “Delancey street”

  66. 66
    Glocksman says:

    Arlo Guthrie’s The City of New Orleans is on my permanent playlist.

    One of my dreams is to take a train trip across the country.

    That said, I love Living Colour’s Cult of Personality this time of year because it reminds us to be cautious in what we believe.

  67. 67
    Jewish Steel says:

    Andre 3000 is too old to play Jimi Hendrix.

  68. 68
    brantl says:

    City of New Orleans should count, as should This Land is Your Land, double.

  69. 69
    moderateindy says:

    @Glocksman: A friend of mine owns a company that owns a couple of railroads, but his passion project is some old Pullman railroad cars that have been restored, and are attached to the City of N.O. It is a full luxury trip from Chicago to N.O. aboard a beautiful train. A trip well worth taking, according to some other friends that have taken the ride.

  70. 70
    moderateindy says:

    @Glocksman: A friend of mine owns a company that owns a couple of railroads, but his passion project is some old Pullman railroad cars that have been restored, and are attached to the City of N.O. It is a full luxury trip from Chicago to N.O. aboard a beautiful train. A trip well worth taking, according to some other friends that have taken the ride.
    Oh, another great train song Texas Eagle by Steve Earle

  71. 71
    Petorado says:

    @trollhattan: That’s one of the great songs about the American experience. And who better to write and compose it than “just another band from East L.A.”

  72. 72
    Emily68 says:


    Freight Train http://youtu.be/F_wrFI-Kbxk

    and This Train http://youtu.be/KKsDQaTkkxo
    sung by Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis

  73. 73
    Tony Duque says:

    Jewel sang the national anthem for the 1998 Super Bowl. It was the first time I had ever thought, “wow, that was awesome”. The song is hard and most people sing it the same way, which is a little boring. The Marvin Gaye version is great too. Had I seen it in person I would have been blown away. That guy was amazing.

  74. 74
    Death Panel Truck says:

    Hendrix. The studio version, recorded in early 1969 at the Record Plant. It’s on the Rainbow Bridge soundtrack album.

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