- July 12, 2016
Whether you’re on the beach, at a barbecue or just sitting with a beer ready for the fireworks, the key to Fourth of July is the perfect playlist.
Classics like Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” and Ray Charles’ rendition of “America the Beautiful” will always put you in the patriotic spirit, and you can never go wrong with Whitney Houston singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” But this year, try broadening your soundtrack for some extra flair.
Johnny Cash’s “Ragged Old Flag” is a spoken piece that tells the history of the proud country the flag has flown over. On her patriotic hit “American Heart,” Faith Hill said, “Times are hard and people are struggling, but our spirit as Americans always seems to prevail."
Although the country genre might not be everyone’s favorite, it’s provided plenty of road trip-type hits that celebrate the U.S. Can you listen to “Dixieland Delight” without singing along? And make sure to catch the Sarasota call-out in Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere.”
“Sweet Caroline” is of course a must, but don’t miss another of Neil Diamond’s patriotic songs, “America,” which celebrates being the home for immigrants. “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” written in 1900 by James Weldon Johnson on the struggles Black Americans faced following the Reconstruction era, has been known as the Black national anthem since 1917 and was used as a rallying cry throughout the civil rights movement as well as during protests after the police murder of George Floyd in 2020. Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” ranked No. 3 in Rolling Stone’s 2021 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, became a civil rights anthem after its 1964 release.
Many of the best patriotic songs are also criticisms. Woody Guthrie’s “The Land is Your Land” was a response to Irving Berlin “God Bless America,” with the original 1940 version critical of the U.S., commenting on private property and hunger — asking if God blessed America or just the lucky few. However, the 1944 recording dropped the verse on hunger, and the private property verse was dropped by the 1951 recording. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” is another Fourth of July classic, thanks to its catchy and upbeat chorus, but listen to the bluesy verses for the tale of veterans facing economic hardships after returning from Vietnam.
Turn up the volume with spirited pop too. Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A” will fit in with every playlist, and Weezer’s “I Love the USA” is a fun close to the party.
Check out the full playlist below: