July 4th celebrates American Independence from the British. But it also celebrates those traits we consider distinctly American. Country music is a unique American artform. So it’s no surprise that many country stars have released songs that have become patriotic anthems. We’ve put together a list of songs that you’re likely to hear on the radio this 4th of July weekend.
10: American Made-The Oak Ridge Boys. This song may have topped the charts almost 40 years ago, but it still sounds fresh today. The song observes how everything we buy seems to have a foreign name, with one very personal exception.
9: Where the Stars & Stripes & The Eagle Fly-Aaron Tippin. It was written before 9/11, but Aaron was reminded of it when he saw a picture of the Statue of Liberty, with the smoke rising from Ground Zero in the background. He rush released it to radio that week, and it went to #1.
8: Firecracker-Josh Turner. Nothing more American on the 4th of July than firecrackers, and comparing one’s love to that intensity was an obvious connection. Josh released the song one week before July 4, 2007, and it peaked at #2 in October. It remains one of his most popular songs, especially at this time of year.
7: American Child-Phil Vassar. Phil wrote this song in the months following 9/11, inspired by the birth of his second daughter Presley. The song starts autobiographically in “Nowhere Virginia,” travels to witness the birth of his daughter, and then goes full circle with his grandfather, who was killed in World War 2.
6: American Soldier-Toby Keith. Toby began visiting military bases and doing USO Tours in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11. He heard a lot of stories from soldiers about their lives, and they inspired this song. It was the second single from his “Shock’n Y’all” album, released in the winter of 2003.
5: All American Girl-Carrie Underwood. This song is somewhat autobiographical, as Carrie was the youngest of three girls. She often told interviewers that she was her father’s last hope of having a son. As the winner of American Idol, she has represented her country around the world, and this song captures a lot of why she’s become so popular.
4: Independence Day-Martina McBride. While it wasn’t meant to be a patriotic anthem, the song took on new meaning after 9/11. But it was written as a song about overcoming domestic abuse. For that reason, the song only peaked at #10 when it was released in 1994. But it’s become one of Martina’s most enduring hits, and continues to get standing ovations at her concerts.
3: Only In America-Brooks & Dunn. The song was ironically released a few months before 9/11, in June of 2001. Ronnie Dunn recalls driving in Connecticut two days after 9/11, realizing that the first line in the song is “Sun comin’ up over New York City.” The song took on a new meaning, and quickly peaked at #1 at the end of October. From then on, the duo incorporated local soldiers and confetti when they performed the song in the concerts.
2: Courtesy of the Red White & Blue-Toby Keith. Toby wrote the song inspired by the combination of 9/11 and the accidental death of his father. He told people how his father had lost his eye in the Korean War, but always remained positive and patriotic. He wanted to write a song that would capture how his father would react to 9/11. He subtitled it “The Angry American,” and it peaked at #1 in the country charts on the weekend of July 4, 2002.
1: God Bless the USA-Lee Greenwood. It’s been the most enduring patriotic country song, and was originally released in the summer of 1984. Greenwood performed the song at the Republican National Convention that year, where Ronald Reagan was nominated for a second term. But the song became a bigger hit during the Gulf War in 1991, and then again after 9/11.
Lots of others deserve honorable mention, including “American Saturday Night” by Brad Paisley, “We Shall Be Free” by Garth Brooks, “XXXs & OOOs (An American Girl)” by Trisha Yearwood, “America” by Waylon Jennings, “American Honey” by Lady Antebellum, “American Ride” by Toby Keith, ”If You’re Reading This” by Tim McGraw, “It’s America” by Rodney Atkins, “Home” by Dierks Bentley, and “Small Town USA” by Justin Moore.