4 misappropriated songs about American patriotism on July 4

As celebrate the Declaration of Independence on this Fourth of July, patriotic songs might come to mind. There are several songs like America The Beautiful, God Bless America, Yankee Doodle Dandy, or The Star Spangled Banner come to mind.

Then there are other songs that seem to contain memorable verses that seem to be shouting American patriotism, at least on the surface. But if you listen closely, there are many songs that have a deeper meaning questioning the state of life in the United States.

Here are four prime examples of songs that we would classify as misappropriated, especially by politicians, as patriotic.  

Pink Houses - John Mellencamp

With the catchy verse that shouts:

Ah, but ain't that America for you and me?Ain't that America? Somethin' to see, babyAin't that America? Home of the free, yeahLittle pink houses for you and me

But if you dig a little more, there are these lines that say:

And there's winners and there's losersBut they ain't no big deal'Cause the simple man, baby, pays for the thrills, the billsThe pills that kill

Read this review to learn the background of this classic misappropriated song.  

This Land is Your Land -Woody Guthrie

People of a certain age may remember singing this folk classic in music class or perhaps hearing more upbeat covers by Peter, Paul and Mary or the New Christy Minstrels. Those covers really obscure the deeper meaning of this song and omit the verses saying:

Well, as I was walking, I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing"
But on the other side it didn't say nothing
That land [side] was made for you and me!

Woody Guthrie is said to have written the song in reaction to God Bless America.  

We Take Care of Our Own - Bruce Springsteen

If you were not familiar with Bruce Springsteen's music or politics, listening to We Take Care of Our Own, the song quite literally can be interpreted as patriotic. I mean, really, who can disagree with the verse We Take Care of Our Own.

Of course, the song has a much deeper meaning. While the verse We Take Care of Our Own dominates, the song starts with:

I've been knockin' on the door that holds the throne
I've been lookin' for the map that leads me home
I've been stumblin' on good hearts turned to stone
The road of good intentions has gone dry as bone

The title of this review, "Springsteen Does Another Political Fakeout With 'We Take Care of Our Own'," pretty much says it all.

Born in The USA - Bruce Springsteen
Maybe The Boss wrote We Take Care of Own as a follow-up to perhaps the most misappropriated and misunderstood song for an entire generation, Born In The USA. Released during the height of Reaganism in 1984, the primal Born In the U S A  scream sounds like a nationalistic U S A chant. 

The song paints a bleak picture, especially for Vietnam-era veterans and working-class people in general.

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1 comment

Renegade said...

Let's not forget CCR's classic Viet Nam dis, Fortunate Son

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