Red, White & Blue: gmc’s Top 10 Patriotic Playlist
It’s almost a sure bet: Here in America, we’ll enjoy our Independence Day holiday somewhere near the water or gathered around the barbeque grill with family and friends, or watching fireworks rocket the city skyline. It’s just what we do in celebration and remembrance of the brave men and women who keep our country free. But wherever we go or whatever we do, a patriotic soundtrack is a must.
Come July 4th, radio stations across the country will be blurring genres and generations to unite under the common theme of American idealism. And it’s pretty safe to say that listeners will find themselves singing along to classics like Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” and “America the Beautiful” with a blend of passion, pride, reverence and respect, while (hopefully) reflecting on the cost of freedom.
The standards of this season are sung by countless artists, so choosing favorites feels downright unpatriotic. But... we’ve done it, and we don’t mind saying we’re "red, white, blue and in tune" on this, our Top 10 ‘American Pride’ songs.
1. “The Star-Spangled Banner”/ Whitney Houston
This national anthem written in 1780 and officially adopted in 1931 is a no-brainer for the top of our list, if only for its supreme patriotic premise of the American flag and everything it represents thriving throughout the ages. Besides being played like clockwork every July 4th, the song also kicks off every Super Bowl. Whitney Houston’s gospel-tinged rendition, our personal favorite, hit the top 20 in 1991 and made it to #6 ten years later following the September 11 attacks.
2. “America the Beautiful”/ Ray Charles
Everyone from Elvis Presley to a bevy of country performers have tackled this tried-and-true tune, but none made it more memorable than velvety soul crooner Ray Charles. The poem from 1895 was transferred to song format in 1910 and is second only to “The Star-Spangled Banner” in terms of performance frequency at everything from ball games to government ceremonies. Now if only Ray were still around to sing it!
3. “God Bless America”/ Celine Dion
Speaking of vocal powerhouses, Canadian Celine Dion comforted the U.S. in the aftermath of 9/11 with her tender treatment of this classic tune. Originally penned by the legendary Irving Berlin in 1918 and revised in 1938, the lyrics serve as a prayer for prosperity, while offering thanksgiving for spacious lands and vast natural resources.
4. “This Land Is Your Land”/ Woody Guthrie
Arguably the greatest folk singer/songwriter in history, Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land Is Your Land” as a youthful response to “God Bless America” in 1940. The song speaks of living in community while pursuing one’s dreams simultaneously, and inspired fellow legends like Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen and Peter, Paul and Mary to put their stamp on the standard. You might have been one of the millions who learned this song in music class at school. Can you remember the words?
5. “God Bless the U.S.A.”/ Lee Greenwood
It may be newer in comparison to the above, but “God Bless the U.S.A.” has speedily been adapted as one of the country’s ultimate patriotic examples. Penned and sung by country crooner Lee Greenwood in 1984, its role has extended far beyond fireworks to also bring comfort during the Gulf War, 2001 terrorist attacks and subsequent invasion of Iraq.
6. “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”/ Aretha Franklin
Long before “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” was America’s signature song, dating back to Samuel Francis Smith penning the lyrics in 1831. It’s been sung by practically everyone who’s anyone throughout the ages, but Aretha Franklin recently brought down the house when applying her soulful style during President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Can anyone top the Queen of Soul laying it down at such a historic event? We can’t even begin to imagine who.
7. “Battle Hymn of the Republic”/ Judy Garland
With lyrics straight out of scripture, “Battle Hymn of the Republic” provides yet another overt example of Americans leaning on the faith on which this country was founded. The late, great Judy Garland often shared the iconic chorus “Glory, glory, hallelujah!/Our God is marching on” during her weekly television show and also recorded one of the most popular versions of this classic.
8. “There She Stands”/ Michael W. Smith
In more recent years (2002 to be exact), “There She Stands” by Christian pop favorite Michael W. Smith has served as a fitting sequel of sorts to “Battle Hymn,” if only for its Biblical basis and pro-military overtones. The self-explanatory chorus is an ode to the freedom found in the flag: “Just when you think it might be over/Just when you think the fight is gone/Someone will risk his life to raise her/There she stands.”
9. “America”/ Neil Diamond
One of the most upbeat sounds of every summer is Neil Diamond’s 1981 pop staple “America.” Though best known for being coordinated to the flashiest fireworks spectacles from coast to coast, the lyrics tip their hat to the expansive cultural melting pot this country has become.
10. “All For One”/ Kevin Chalfant
The one-time lead singer for classic rockers The Storm, turned Journey stand-in, and solo star Kevin Chalfant, debuted this power ballad just last year at conservative political commentator Glenn Beck’s Right Nation rally. Co-penned with band member/producer Chuck Giacinto, it’s being touted as the “God Bless the U.S.A.” for the current generation as it pays tribute to the country’s godly principles and endless opportunities.
So tell us... what’s on your patriotic playlist?
Copyright 2011, www.watchgmctv.com. For permission to repost or reprint, click here.
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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