Play them loud at a party. All the right people will get it, and think you are the best host ever.
"4th of July" - Shooter Jennings
As his most accessible country rock song, this tune off Shooter's debut is a joyful summertime rocker from the alt-country bad-ass. The album version benefits from the unique coda, as he brings in George Jones to sing a line or two of "He Stopped Loving Her Today". The Possum then questions his potential paycheck.
"4th of July" - X
LA punk band - 20 years before Shooter - playing some of the same beautiful and simple rock and roll chords. Bassist John Doe went on to appear in a bunch of movies, with his unique face perfect for the smart-and-slightly-askew characters he was asked to play. And lest we forget, this band was an early 80's California influence. No X? Then there would be no Everclear or Green Day.
"4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
The sound of the accordian and the lyrics send you to the East coast and allow you to see a vision of the boardwalk. Brilliant 70's R&B rock and roll. And the piece was later ripped off for the movie "Grease", as John Travolta sang a similar sounding "Sandy" song. Here's a truly classic version of the band's take on the tune, from Bruce's legendary week-long run at the Bottom Line in NYC. This cut is from August 15, 1975.
"American Girl" - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Is this his best song ever? Petty has written a lot of great shit, like "The Insider", "Even the Losers", and "Listen to Her Heart", to namecheck just three of dozens. Maybe it isn't. But I still can't help but crank up the volume when this one comes on the iTunes shuffle. So maybe it is.
Tunes that could be included (If it were a bigger list):
"Independence Day" - Larry Crane / A slab of midwest girl-gets-abused-and-gets-out rock, done with believability and heart.
"Independence Day" - Martina McBride / Her best song. Great melodramatic video.
"Independence Day" - Bruce Springsteen / Nothing to do with the holiday; everything to do with the spirit of the event.
"American Woman" - The Guess Who / Even though they are from Canada.
"American Slang" - The Gaslight Anthem / Capturing a slice of America and the story of one and many, from America's best new rock and roll band.
What did I miss? A bunch, undoubtedly. But I'd take my list against anyone's. What you got? Add yours to the comments section, and be a hero.
Happy fireworks everybody. And if you end up playing Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.", don't bother trying to explain how it really isn't a happy song. Just let the people scream the chorus. It's a party, dammit.