As I sit contemplative, I am at a loss as to what to write for such a momentous day. The way I see it, I have only a handful of choices: historical, personal, lyrical. Not being a history buff, I quickly dismissed historical. As far as personal goes, even I’m getting tired of my stories. So, lyrical it is. But be forewarned, as the title suggests, this is not your typical independence day.
My first selection weaves an all too common theme of independence through violence. The catchy tune and upbeat tempo of Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” belies the seriousness of domestic violence. The song is irony from start to finish. The song is set on the 4th of July, yet the abused mother has no freedom until she “lit up the sky that 4th of July” and burns down her house along with her abuser, risking losing her freedom. That’s American country, folks. “Now I ain’t sayin’ it’s right or it’s wrong/But maybe it’s the only way.” Check it out here: http://youtu.be/4VPpAZ9_qAw
John Fogerty’s “Centerfield” may seem an odd choice. However, what better way to celebrate the 4th than with a good, old, American baseball tune. Cheesy, perhaps; but, baseball is America’s sport. If you are a baseball fan, check out vintage Americana here: http://youtu.be/04KQydlJ-qc
Next on the turntable is X, an American punk rock band, with “4th of July.” When I first heard this tune, there was something so Los Lobos about it. I’m no music aficionado, but it just felt that way to me. I did some research on the band and wouldn’t you know, the band formed in Los Angeles in 1977, right around the time that Los Lobos, just another band from east LA hit the local scene. There is evidence in the chorus that the setting of the song could be an apartment in east LA, but maybe that’s just me projecting. “On the stairs I smoke a cigarette alone/Mexican kids are shootin’ fireworks below.” Give it a try, you may find you like it: http://youtu.be/K_tyWt_9Bfs
If I had any doubts that Los Lobos may have influenced the above mentioned song, this next song puts those doubts to rest. “One Time, One Night” by Los Lobos was released in 1987, the same year X released “4th of July.” “One Time, One Night” is a series of vignettes set in “the home of the brave/In this land here of the free.” Although the stories in the song are disheartening (woman shot, kids taken, young boy dies), the song ends in hope, “My father said to be strong/And that a good man could never do wrong/In a dream I had last night in America.” For your listening pleasure:
I’m going to end on what, at first glance, appears to be kitschy, lowbrow, schlock. However, upon closer inspection, Remy’s “Up In My Grill” really speaks to the heart of our independence. “It’s the land of the free, we put paper to quill/and said the government can’t be all up in your grill.” Word! It’s only one minute and twenty seconds long, so why not take a listen: http://youtu.be/V1weRo8uWA0
Well dear Readers, here’s hoping that we can all celebrate America’s Independence Day without any jingoistic or xenophobic overtones. Here’s to you, America. Peace, ~v.