This year as I considered beautiful Independence Day songs, the first two that came to mind were Ray Charles’ rendition of America the Beautiful and Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land. The former is special to me because of Ray’s unique emotion and authentic style of singing, whereas the latter I appreciate mainly because of the simple but powerful words. I’d be interested in learning, as a comment, what your favorite 4th of July song is, if you have one.
For the last few years, I’ve also thought about John Prine’s The Great Compromise during 4th of July celebrations. While at first it may seem that he is singing about an estranged woman, to me the song is clearly about John’s country, the U.S.A. The love, uncertainty, outrage, and sadness that he feels when considering his relationship with his country is, I think, truly patriotic. And while it is not the type of song that is likely to be played at family gatherings as fireworks crackle and kids run around with sparklers, I think you might get something out of considering what John was saying in that song.
For me, ‘The Great Compromise’ serves as a reminder that the best way to love something that you are a part of isn’t to pretend that it is, or was, simply and purely great, but rather to identify the good and bad and then to do what you need to do to make things better.