A Presidential Playlist
We cannot tell a lie - these 20 songs will have you feeling patriotic in no time!
1. Star-Spangled Banner
There are so many versions of this available by a multitude of artists and performers, that is is hard to narrow down to just one. So we have two! Louis Daniel Armstrong, and Jimi Hendrix's iconic performance live at Woodstock.
2. Amazing Grace
Again, another song that has several wonderful renditions (over 3,000!), but a few favorites are Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Alan Jackson, Andrea Bocelli, Celtic Woman, Whitney Houston, and Elvis Presley.
3. You're a Grand Old Flag - George M. Cohen
Written in 1906, "You're a Grand Old Flag" became the first song from a musical to sell over a million copies of sheet music. It is still popular today, especially with marches and children's programs.
4. Yankee Doodle - Dr. Richard Shuckburg
Did you know? The full version of this song has 17 verses!! Find them here
5. Stars and Stripes Forever - John Philip Sousa
This song was declared the official National March of the United States of America in 1987. Composed in 1986, this piece is also known as "The Disaster March" in show business and particularly in theater and the circus.
6. Our Country - John Cougar Mellencamp
John Cougar Mellencamp's music is known for having strong American roots and imagery, as well as politics, including "R.O.C.K in the USA", "Jack and Diane", "Country Gentlemen", "Jim Crow", and many more.
7. America the Beautiful - Katharine Lee Bates / Samuel A. Ward
While Katharine Lee Bates (not Kathy Bates) wrote the lyrics, Samuel A. Ward composed the music - however, the two never met! The lyrics were inspired by her view of the the Kansas and the astounding view of the Great Plains from Pikes Peak.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRUjr8EVgBg (Performed by Ray Charles)
8. This Land is Your Land - Woody Guthrie
The original version of this song was entitled "God Blessed America for Me". The line "This land was made for you and me" initially matched the title in each verse, but was changed over. The song was written in the 1940's, but was revitalized in the 1960's with the Civil Rights movement.
9. Take Me Home, Country Roads - John Denver
This popular song as almost drastically different, as the writer, Danoff, considered using Massachusetts instead of West Virginia in the song originally entitled "I Guess He'd Rather Be in Colorado." The writers had also initially hoped to have Johnny Cash perform their song, but instead, John Denver heard it, and had to have it!
10. Ragged Old Flag - Johnny Cash
Speaking of Johnny Cash, his 1974 hit "Ragged Old Flag" makes the list for patriotic songs. The entire album, also entitled "Ragged Old Flag", largely discusses political events at the time, with an emphasis on the Watergate scandal.
11. God Bless the USA / Proud To Be An American- Lee Greenwood
While this song was written in 1984 and used in the Reagan campaigns, it witnessed a surge in popularity following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Beyonce covered this song in 2008 as well, following the death of Bin Laden. The proceeds from the performance went to charity.
12. Born in the USA - Bruce Springsteen
"Born in the USA" was released in 1984. The album faced a lot of controversy, not for its content, but for its artwork. Many people believed it depicted Springsteen urinating on the flag, but he insists it was focused on his behind, because after several pictures, it just looked better than his face.
13. Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynard
Fun fact, none of the members of the band Lynyrd Skynard were from Alabama, its artists hailing instead from both California and Florida. There is still heavy contention on the true intent of the song. Singer Ronnie VYou will find many interpretations of my lyrics but none of them by me ... Sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence."on Zant insists that the song was condemning Governor Wallace (known best for segregation of the schools) and his views on African-Americans, while co-writer Ed King states that the song is showing its support for Wallace as the embodiment of the average man in Alabama.
14. American Pie - Don McLean
This popular song has led to some stringent debates on the actual meaning of the song, with theories ranging from mourning the death of Buddy Holly to a reference on Charles Manson. For many years, Don refused to answer what the song was about saying "You will find many interpretations of my lyrics but none of them by me ... Sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence." It became a million dollar question when Don finally caved in when he sold the original manuscript for 1.2 million dollars in 2015. "Basically in American Pie things are heading in the wrong direction. ... It [life] is becoming less idyllic. I don't know whether you consider that wrong or right but it is a morality song in a sense."
15. America - Simon & Garfunkel
This song is not only about young lovers hitchhiking their way across the United States, in search of "America," but is also about disillusionment about the "American Dream", which was a particular struggle in the 1960's. This song starts off lighthearted and adventurous when talking about a road trip, but the characters all become desolate, tired, and weary as they get to the New Jersey turnpike where the writer talks his feelings of emptiness in his search for "America" or a world/idea that they were led to believe existed.
16. My Country 'Tis of Thee - Samuel Francis Smith
This song, written to the tune of the United Kingdom's national anthem "God Save the Queen" was written in 1831. The lyrics were written in 30 minutes when Smith was a student in Andover, Mass.
17. Battle Hymn of the Republic - Julia Ward Howe
Written to the melody of "John Brown's Body", "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was written by an abolitionist in 1861. The song was written at the beginning of the American Civil War, and uses allusion to the Bible to convey anti-slavery rhetoric. The lyrics of the song later inspired the title for John Steinbeck's novel, Grapes of Wrath.
18. Hail to the Chief - James Sanderson
Perhaps the ultimate Presidential song, "Hail to the Chief" is played at inaugurations and in many official events by the United States Marine Band. This song is also played during the funeral of prior presidents when the casket is removed from the hearse. Due to its age, this song is considered public domain.
19. Of Thee I Sing - George Gershwin
This song appears in the 1931 musical, also entitled "Of Thee I Sing". The humorous musical is about a President who marries a beautiful French woman, but falls in love with a member of the campaign staff. He then marries the campaign worker, which causes the beautiful woman's country to declare war. In the end, the Vice-President ends up marrying the French beauty.
20. Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Released in 1969, "Fortunate Son" became one of the best-known anti-Vietnam songs of the era, and is still popular in pop culture 40 years later. The song took the author, John Fogerty, about 20 minutes to write. He was angered that the actions of the privileged elite didn't affect their children's lives, but instead took the lives of everyday young men who were in no way involved with the decisions.
"The thoughts behind this song - it was a lot of anger. So it was the Vietnam War going on... Now I was drafted and they're making me fight, and no one has actually defined why"