I'm not exactly the patriotic type. I've been to more countries than states; I prefer solitude to mall culture. Heck, we don't even have basic cable. But all power-hungry, commercial/corporate complex, bittersweet modernity aside, I believe in the ideals which frame the constant American dialogue with itself -- including first and foremost the requirement that we keep talking, lest we abdicate our role as government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
And I believe that, by definition, as music which speaks of and for a people, American folk music holds a particular place in that conversation which is America. Folk focuses that conversation, making it real and vivid, whether it is through the lens of policy critique or protest cry, the immigrant experience or the internal monologue of a singer-songwriter struggling to be free.
Checks and balances and a mechanism for self-correction; fireworks and barbecue, and the right to make dumb mistakes and have to live with 'em. Losing love, and falling in it again. Finding hope, and being scared to dream one more time. It's the American way, all of it -- and it's been that way since inception.
Which is to say: if I may sometimes work to change the policies of those in power, through sharing song or through town meeting politics, it is because I love this country. And I hope I never lose that fluttery feeling in my stomach when we come in for a landing at the international terminal, and I know that I am home.
So let other bloggers share patriotic song today. I'd rather take the country as it is: dialogic, complex, open about its faults and favors, and always looking for a better way. And if saying so means posting songs we have posted here before, then so be it -- for these are, after all, timeless songs, with messages that bear repeating.
Happy Birthday, America. Long may your contradictions endear us to you. May you never lose hope. And may we never stop singing.
- Eva Cassidy, American Tune (orig. Paul Simon)
(from American Tune; more Eva here)
- Melora Creager, American Girl (orig. Tom Petty)
(from Perplexions; more Melora here)
- Danny Michel, Young Americans (orig. David Bowie)
(from Loving the Alien; more Danny here)
- Ann Vriend, Rockin' In The Free World (orig. Neil Young)
(from When We Were Spies; more Ann here)
- Tony Furtado, Fortunate Son (orig. Creedence Clearwater Revival)
(from Thirteen; more Tony here)
- Richard Shindell, Born in the U.S.A. (orig. Bruce Springsteen)
(from South of Delia; more Richard here)
- Allison Crowe, Independence Day (orig. Ani DiFranco)
(from Live at Wood Hall; more Allison here)