Friday on My Mind: Songs About America

Welcome the all-American edition of Friday on My Mind, the weekly collaborative blog post between KEXP and King 5 News which takes a look at music videos centered around one common theme. In honor of next Wednesday’s 4th of July holiday, today we’re talking about songs about America.

Thomas Jefferson was designated to draft America’s declaration of independence. He secluded himself for days and came up with the first draft of the Declaration of Independence which drew influence from philosophers like Rousseau and Locke. It’s not like he wasn’t busy doing other things. He was also a horticulturist, politician, lawyer, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, and inventor. He is a lot like our current politicians except you’d have to take out all those except “lawyer”. He also loved his wine. While President he ran up a personal wine bill of $10, 835.90. Adjusted for inflation, that translates to $146,524.40, or $18,315.55 for every year in office. It’s one of the major reasons he was always in debt and obviously always drunk. SO, he was a drunk, busy with a thousand different jobs AND he still had time to write the Declaration of Independence. Bad ass.

On June 28th, 1776 he presented his draft to the Second Continental Congress, which included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and the president of the Second Continental Congress, John Hancock. Can you imagine even ONE of these great leaders in our Congress now? Or better yet, what they would think about the current house? They had em all at the right place at the right time. They read and revised Jefferson’s work and with that final document, America declared its independence from Great Britain on July 4th, 1776, hence why we call the 4th Independence Day. Luckily Great Britain didn’t have a strong lobby to fight this decision. They did however have an army.

To this day, celebrations take place all around the country on the 4th of July. Those in Philadelphia celebrate by re-enacting historical scenes as well as the reading of the full Declaration of Independence. In Boston, people listen to the Boston Pops Orchestra perform, while the USS John F. Kennedy sails into the harbor, all of which is televised. Nearly every major city has a fireworks display and in Seattle John Richards dresses up like Thomas Jefferson and drinks a lot of wine.

For your 4th of July listening pleasure, here are three songs about America- new and old.

Dom - Living in America

Trio out of Worcester, Massachusetts that are led by a dude whose first name is actually Dom. Not “Dong” like 16 Candles. In an interview he said he wanted for “Living in America” to be a latter day “YMCA”. The problem with that is that you can’t really spell out “America” as easily. In late 2010, this band posted to the “Strictly Platonic” section of Craigslist to basically ask for a band nanny. The ad read: “we are a cool bunch of d00dz looking for a mature older woman to hang out with. we enjoy board games, watching funny youtube vids, and home cooked meals. we all have serious girlfriends, but lack a mature older woman in our lives.” America. Fuck yeah!

Ray Charles - America the Beautiful

The lyrics of America the Beautiful started as a poem that was written by a Wellesley College professor, Katherine Lee Bates. The thoughts and the ideas of the poem were inspired by the sights she witnessed while taking a train to Colorado. It was first put to the melody that we are all currently familiar with in 1910. Although many have performed the song, including Elvis Presley, the most popular rendition of the song would have to be that of Ray Charles.

Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA

Born in the USA is the song and the 1984 album by Bruce Springsteen. A handful of songs on the album, including Born in the USA were originally written during the recording of his 1982 album, Nebraska, but the songs didn’t fit the darker feel of that album. Right wing politicians tend to try and use this song for their campaigning purposes, but fail to realize that the song’s lyrical content isn’t necessarily the most positive view of being born here and that Bruce Springsteen is very much a liberal.

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