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Patriotism sans platitudes: 6 great songs about America

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It’s really hard to find a patriotic song about America that’s not from a country band or Bette Midler. What’s a proud American supposed to do if they don’t want to hear the same old Toby Keith songs about boots in asses? Have no fear! We’ve found six unconventionally American songs to make your Fourth of July party original. 

1. and 2. James Brown — “Living In America” & “America Is My Home”

In case you’re wondering where Soul Brother Number One lives, it’s America. And it’s his home. That’s why he’s the only artist who gets two songs on this list. The first song, “Living In America,” is from the Rocky IV soundtrack, which makes it more American than John Wayne and Walmart combined. And the second one, "America Is My Home," has the lines, “Now I am sorry for the man who don't love this land / Now black and white, they may fight / But when up the enemy come we'll get together and run 'em out of sight.” I’m not exactly sure how we’ll run ‘em out of sight, but it may involve PCP and firing a shotgun in the air at an insurance seminar. Who needs fireworks when you got Mr. Dynamite?

  1. Murphy's Law — “America Rules”

    Who says hillbillies have the market cornered on dumb lyrics? These meatheads from New York City wrote a truly patriotic, rip-roaring, unironic hardcore blast featuring lines like, “This is a place we love a lot / It’s our country and it’s all we got / America rules!” Then they go on to extol such uniquely American institutions as “Baseball! Pretty girls! Rock 'n' roll!” You forgot sunny days and pizza, brah! Did they let their 12-year-old son write this or did Hacksaw Jim Duggan join Murphy’s Law? USA! USA! USA!

  2. The Planet Smashers — “I Wish I Were American”

    You don’t have to be from America to be patriotic towards the Red, White, and Blue. Canadian ska band the Planet Smashers penned a little ditty with lines like, “So this is America? / Far from the sleet and misery / Don’t ruin my euphoria / Seems like living here comes easily / I wish I were American.” Canada loves to mock America about everything from health care issues to lack of Tim Hortons, so it’s nice to hear some love from the Canucks. What inspired the change? Did some Yankee help carry all their trombones? Did they get a maple syrup massage in Toledo?

  3. Funkadelic — “One Nation Under a Groove”

    Let’s be honest here: This song is almost complete gibberish. The track opens with the lines, “So wide you can’t get around it / So low you can’t get under it / So high you can’t get over it / Da-yee do do do do do do.” It sounds like the Riddler took some acid and joined a funk band. Come to think of it, he wouldn’t look that out of place in P-Funk next to Bootsy Collins and the dude in the diaper. Even though the verses are pretty hard to decipher (Is it the Great Wall Of China? Mama June?), we can all get behind the chorus this Fourth of July: “One nation under a groove / Getting down just for the funk of it.” So hand out the gold rhinestone top hats, Dr. Funkenstein — America's about to get funky in here.

  4. Descendents — “‘Merican”

    Howard Zinn said that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism." Leave it to a punk band with an egghead scientist singer to perfectly encapsulate what it is to be a proud American with a conscience. We’re not all Yosemite Sam shooting rootin’-tootin’ rainbow flags with our pistols, and we’re not all Michael Moore riding endangered whales to a Marxist island full of equally distributed coconuts. Like using a handicapped stall when you’re 99 percent sure you’re the only person in the store, there are gray areas. “Listen up man, I’ll tell you who I am / Just another stupid American / You don’t wanna listen you don’t wanna understand / So finish up your drink and go home.” America may be the greatest country in the world, but we still need to remember our mistakes and try to never repeat them. Especially Jesse Ventura. Happy Fourth of July!