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Friday January 18th 2019

Taylor B’s Beat: July 2013 Edition

"Flag" by Jasper Johns “Flag” by Jasper Johns

The advent of July beckons fireworks, hot nights, and Independence Day. Americans everywhere will celebrate the anniversary of our country’s founding on the Fourth and the following songs will stir national pride at any party.

            Every mix should begin with the standard American anthems. While “America the Beautiful” has been accepted as practically a second anthem, nobody sang it like Ray Charles owned it. “Living in America” by James Brown simultaneously makes pride swell and feet dancing. True patriotism can be found in the schmaltz of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” and John Mellencamp’s “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.”

            Miley Cyrus held a “Party in the USA,” presumably including songs by Britney and Jay-Z.  Kim Wilde introduced everyone to “Kids in America,” which was later covered by Len. No sing-along would be complete without Don McLean’s “American Pie.” While almost anything by the band America could work, for obvious reasons, their hit “Ventura Highway” remains a standout.

            For those who prefer a more country celebration, Oklahoma native Carrie Underwood’s “All-American Girl” should provide a sweet transition from pop with a little twang. Brooks & Dunn gave us “Only in America” while Neil Diamond sang about “Coming to America.” Kid Rock let the world know he’s an “American Badass,” while Brad Paisley sang tongue-in-cheek about his “American Saturday Night.” Meanwhile, Johnny Cash went everywhere, man, documenting his travels in “I’ve Been Everywhere.”

Believe it or not, our motherland Great Britain has produced some great songs about us. David Bowie’s “Young Americans” brings hopeful fun, like Estelle’s “American Boy,” which features American boy Kanye West. Elton John knows about “Philadelphia Freedom.” Our northern neighbor Canada gave us “American Woman” by the Guess Who.

What’s more American than a little dissent? American pop has a rich history of protest songs. The classic “California Dreamin’” by the Mamas and the Papas was about the Vietnam War, like the subversive “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” was used in conservative political rallies before The Boss made its protest message clear. Norah Jones’s “My Dear Country” protested the results of the 2004 presidential elections, like P!nk’s “Dear Mr. President” and Bright Eyes’s “When the President Talks to God.”

            Americans also treasure our freedom of speech. The infamous rap group 2 Live Crew may have put it best in “Banned in the U.S.A.:” “The First Amendment gave us freedom of speech / So what you sayin’? It didn’t include me?”

Not every great song about America could fit on this page, but these should help get your celebration started. What are your favorite songs about the USA? Complaints and correspondence may be sent to

            Taylor B, an Army Brat via Fort Sill, has a favorite American song in “On the Fourth of July” by the Great Daryl Nathan.

 Um, Mr. Green, something's on your face.

City and Colour, The Hurry and the Harm*
Grade: B+

Dallas Green strikes gold with his latest album. Warmer and more accessible than previous efforts, The Hurry and the Harm treads between alternative rock, singer-songwriter jaunts, and country with slick production.

A lot of effort went into this.

Kanye West, Yeezus*
Grade: A-

The anticipated Yeezus is a brilliant, livid, visceral record filled with social commentary and personal anxiety. However, credibility is lost considering West’s personal relationship with the embodiment of vapid consumerism.

Long may she reign.

Cher, “Woman’s World”
Grade: C

Cher can do no wrong; producers do wrong by her. As a comeback single from her first studio album in eleven years, Paul Oakenfold generates a generic club beat to correlate with a feminist anthem.

* Link will open the album in Spotify