Happy Music Monday AND (almost) fourth of July readers!
So tomorrow is Independence Day. As we prepare to celebrate 241 years as a free nation by launching fireworks, drinking beer, and eating barbecued meat (you know, living dangerously), I would be remiss if I didn’t pick out the perfect selection for Music Monday that you can, perhaps, carry over to Tuesday’s celebration.
And since I couldn’t pick just one…
America – Neil Diamond
Please try not to reserve your hate for me on this Monday, but I absolutely hate The Jazz Singer. It’s such a terrible movie and Neil Diamond is not such a great actor, but OH MY GOD this soundtrack! It is a good soundtrack!
In regard to this song, I’m not sure if I was happy about this being the final climactic scene of such a forgettable movie, or if this scene really and truly was just awesome, but there is something special about this song. I’m also convinced nothing quite screams “The American dream, and all its freedoms” quite like Neil Diamond in a sparkly shirt. Even Sir Laurence Olivier was ok with all of this…for the cameras. Supposedly, he absolutely hated this movie.
So did alot of other people, but that doesn’t diminish the strength this song has, which was nominated for the American Film Institute (AFI) List of 100 Years, 100 Songs list in 2004.
Star Spangled Man With a Plan
We go from Neil Diamond’s glitz and over-the-top glitter to Chris Evans as America’s superhero in Captain America: The First Avenger. As Steve Rogers is introduced to World War 2 America as their superhero, this song-and-dance was meant to be a way to sell GI Bills. But seriously, Chris Evans and this 1940s-style song is too much fun to resist.
Plus, Cap punches Hitler. What’s not to love about that?!
Captain America March
And why not the super cool, super American closing theme of that same movie?
Composed by Alan Silvestri, the same genius behind the Back to the Future theme (and later, Marvel’s The Avengers), this song is instrumental and amazing. I love that is sounds perfect on the heels of Star Spangled Man With a Plan.
Free – Chicago
This version is from 2012, but the song was originally on the Chicago’s 1971 album Chicago III. The live version of this song is always performed with an American Flag in the background, though I’m not 100% sure it has anything to do with patriotism.
Oh, and I saw them with Earth Wind and Fire, who also performed this song with Chicago:
From a song that probably isn’t about patriotism, but still has an American Flag in the background, to important “patriotic songs”…
America The Beautiful – Ray Charles
You know how some artists mangle the national anthem and other “patriotic” offerings?
Take notes, THIS is the way to variate an important song!
Ray Charles recorded this version in 1976, in honor of The United States of America’s bicentennial. And wow, this is not only soulful, but incredible!
I first heard this version while watching The Sandlot in the early 1990s. I’m sure this was the introduction of this song to many kids my age. When I hear this on the radio around 4th of July every year, I never mind, as this was a patriotic song done right. So many artists take liberty with using their unique style to sing the national anthem and any associated “American” songs, but the problem I have is how many of them mangle it in the process. Not this. Ray Charles did this perfectly.
And finally, how about our National Anthem?
The Star Spangled Banner – Whitney Houston
The place: Tampa, Florida. The reason: Super Bowl XXV. The year: 1991.
Whitney Houston sang the National Anthem with all the grace, poise, and respect we could only expect a singer to give the song. No extra stretchy high notes, no over-the-top hand gestures, just an amazing woman with an amazing voice, doing what she did best at the peak of her career. Before drugs and personal issues (and Bobby Brown) took their toll, this was what Whitney Houston was capable of.
The song itself was released as a single in 1991, and released after the September 11 attacks in 2001, with all sales going to charity.
And on that amazing high note, I’ll close out Music Monday for this week.
Have a great Monday, a great Fourth of July tomorrow, and God Bless America. Please give pause to the reason for the day and the significance of what was fought for. Put in-fighting and political arguments aside, and remember to enjoy the freedoms we are afforded and can enjoy not just today, but everyday.