Patriotic country songs: The good, the bad, the ugly

Happy Armistice slash Veterans Day! This is the day we're supposed to be patriotic, but without blowing anything up. And so on this day, I'm going to remember that services for veterans are woefully underfunded, that Don't Ask Don't Tell is bullshit policy, that women comprise over 14% of active-duty servicepeople and that at least one in three of them will be raped during their service.

Now enjoy these exceptional patriotic country songs!


First, for any of you hoping to write your own patriotic song - a template.

Henry Gibson - "200 Years" (from the movie Nashville)

The Good

The good list operates with the understanding that any patriotic song sung by Willie, Merle, Waylon, or Johnny will be good, even if it's actually quite bad (see Waylon, Johnny). Elton Britt's rendition of "There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere" is an awesome song if you like songs about men who want more than anything to serve their country...even though they're crippled and their country doesn't want them. And you know you do.

Elton Britt - "There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere"

Willie Nelson - "Living in the Promiseland"

Merle Haggard - "Fightin' Side of Me"

Waylon Jennings - "America"

Johnny Cash - "Ragged Old Flag"

The Bad

So bad, they're good. Lee Greenwood ought be sung every time you light a firecracker (so not today, since today is the day not of explosions, but of remembrance. Of remembering that nearly one-fifth of the homeless population is comprised of veterans). The patriotism of Alabama's songs makes me long for the patriotism of the 80s - when it was about the working class, not the "middle" (ahem upper) class. When it was about Fords, not foreign-made Fords. When it was about flags, not English as the national language. That patriotism was way cooler. Moving on, Martina McBride offers us the ultimate feminist man-killer anthem and Billy Ray Cyrus reminds us that all gave some, some gave all, and that Billy Ray was doing all he could to solidify his place as king of bad 90s country.

Lee Greenwood - "God Bless the USA"

Alabama - "Born Country"

Alabama - "40 Hour Week"

Martina McBride - "Independence Day"

Billy Ray Cyrus - "Some Gave All"

The Ugly

Jingoism isn't dead! Plus Alan Jackson knows Jesus but doesn't know the difference between Iraq and Iran, Skynyrd makes a patriotic attempt at a comeback, and...jingoism isn't dead!

Courtesy of the Red, White, Blue (The Angry American)-Toby Keith

Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning) -Alan Jackson

Iraq & Roll-Clint Black

Red, White, and Blue by Lynyrd Skynyrd