I just finished Jessica Barksdale Inclan's blog about what we should celebrate on July 4. Lately my life has taken twists and turns, some good, some setbacks. It's made me think that I want to change things-take some classes, find another job, which isn't easy to do in this economy. The Red Room contest has made me more serious about my writing and has gotten me to thinking about what I should do next. Still, although this country makes me want to tear my hair out sometimes, I am very grateful to live in a country where I can make decisions about my life and not answer to anyone in authority. Call it corny, call it smaltzy, but when I want to feel proud of my country, I sing.
Let's get something straight: I have the worst voice ever. It's the kind of voice that would be on the Loser reel on American Idol. However, as my cousin once said, then it wouldn't be any fun. So here's my picks for my favorite patriotic songs.
"Star Spangled Banner" Well duh. I mean, that's a staple. But which version do you prefer? Marvin Gaye's version? Jose Fellicano's version? Kathie Lee Gifford's version? Or, dare I say it, Dixie Chicks'version? That's the beauty of the song, because when people sing it, they can make it their own.
"God Bless America" Another classic. This one is most associated with Kate Smith, who could belt it out like nobody's business. It became popular again after Sept.11th when members of congress sang it that afternoon on the capitol steps.
"America" by Simon and Garfunkel-okay, the song isn't that patriotic. Mostly it's a guy and his girlfriend Kathy going on a bus trip and noticing everything before them. However, they see the beauty in everything, the man before them who might be a spy, the New Jersey turnpike, the moon rising over an open field. We are all going to look for America and trying to find the beauty in it. If that's not patriotic, I don't know what is.
"America" by Neil Diamond- ah, 1981. My mother and I saw The Jazz Singer where Neil Diamond is just a Jewish man trying to make it as a singer. Is that so wrong? He also falls in love with Lucie Arnaz, Lawrence Oliver says "I...haff...no...son!!!" and oh heck! We don't care about the plot! We just like the music! No matter how you feel, it will make you want to march down the street with an American flag.
"We Shall Overcome" by Pete Seeger-God I love Pete Seeger. He's a man who walks the walk and talks the talk. After Sept 11th, I listened to this song over and over and I kept repeating to myself "We are not afraid. We are not afraid. We are not afraid, today." That simple lyric got me through a terrible time.
"Stars and Stripes Forever" by John Phillips Souza-This song makes me want to be like Shirley Temple and go lead a parade and twirl a baton.
"This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie-like the "Star Spangled Banner", this is a song that a singer can make their own. My favorite version (one I can't find) is when Arlo Guthrie sang the song at a tribute to Pete Seeger and he made up a chorus denouncing a proposition that denied health benefits to illegal immigrants. It was beautiful.
"Centerfield" by John Fogerty-what is more patriotic than baseball, I ask you? I especially love the lyrics: I spent some time on the Mudville Nine/you know I took my lumps when the Mighty Case struck out.
I know there's more, but I can't think of any more songs. I have a kitten that wants to play, movies that need to be seen, and maybe eat some hot dogs and potato chips. If you can think of any more songs, please mention them below. Happy 4th of July, Gentle Readers.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries