Tuesday, July 04, 2006

John Philip who?

The July 4 holiday brings out countless patriotic songs, including “the official march of the United States” by John Philip Sousa, Stars and Stripes Forever.

But songwriters are unable to resist the temptation of using Independence Day as a symbol, whether it’s a reason to leave a bad marriage or for making a troubled relationship work.

Sometimes July 4 actually figures into the story, sometimes not.

As you start firing up the grill, consider these independence-based songs … even if they’re not suitable for fireworks.

4th of July – X. Punk bands need holidays, too.

Independence Day – Ferron. So do singer-songwriters. (I still can’t get enough of Ferron’s’ Almost Kissed and Misty Mountain, so I wanted to mention them.)

4th of July – U2. And so do Irish superstar bands, although this song’s instrumental.

Almost Independence Day – Van Morrison. Speaking of Ireland, Van gets into the mood during San Francisco Bay fireworks on this moody track from Saint Dominic’s Preview.

Fourth of July – Dave Alvin. A member of X, Alvin put out a great relationship song on King of California. Or you can catch the Robert Earl Keen version. Also, check out Alvin’s Surfer Girl from the same CD. You’ll never think of that song in the same way again.

Independence Day – Martina McBride. The birth of a country inspired this country anthem. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But sometimes Independence Day is a declaration of personal liberty.

4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) – Bruce Springsteen. This one still gets me all these years later. The details of the dusty arcades and the summer heat and the factory girls, and his plea of “Oh, love me tonight and I promise I'll love you forever” even if the “forever” is a bit strangled on some versions, as if he can barely even say the word.

Be safe out there.

– Michael K.

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