4th Of July Playlist
The ultimate Fourth of July playlist: Barbecue tunes — no Katy Perry allowed
When it comes time to choosing tunes for your barbecue this Independence Day, you might be tempted to go with the typical rah-rah songs about America. Let’s take a Jeffersonian view of this task this year instead, shall we?
In other words, this playlist will concentrate on songs with states names in the titles. And while they all might not be typically patriotic, they still make for a bizarrely fascinating mix that speaks volumes about our country, both good and bad.
“Nebraska” by Bruce Springsteen: The Cornhusker state turns out to be the setting for a killing spree in this raw offering from the album of the same name. It’s based on a true story, the same one that inspired the film Badlands, also later used as a Springsteen title.
“Sweet Virginia” by The Rolling Stones: OK, so the Glimmer Twins probably had a girl in mind and not the state itself. It still qualifies for the list, and it provides a boozy, rollicking example of the Stones at their back-porch best.
“Tennessee Jed” by The Grateful Dead: In another example of a band getting its hillbilly on, the Dead pay homage here to an obscure Western TV show character. The recent cover version by Levon Helm could easily substitute as well.
“Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor: Frequently included on 1970s one-hit wonder collections, this No. 5 U.S. hit comes courtesy of Taylor, who was a white artist recording for Motown. In the song the singer puts the hurt on a dude who wronged his woman, and now he’s got the whole state on his tail.
“Colorado Girl” by Townes Van Zandt: It always seemed in his songs like Townes was on his way home to some far-off girl, but the sorrow in his voice seemed to suggest that he never actually got there. In this case, he’s trying to get to Denver and a girl whose smile “shames the mountains tall.”
“Midnight Train To Georgia” by Gladys Knight & The Pips: This was a tough call, since Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind” is equally iconic. But there’s just something about the “whoo-whoo” backing vocals that makes this classic simply impossible to resist.
“Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd: It gets so overplayed on classic rock radio that it’s easy to forget the intent of this Southern rock staple: Ronnie Van Zant was taking aim at Neil Young’s “Southern Man,” and its negative portrayal of the region.
“Massachusetts” by Bee Gees: Back before they were the Dukes of Disco, the Brothers Gibb specialized in lush, dramatic ballads that were long on those magical harmonies. No clue what’s going on in this song, but, man, does it sound great.
“Come On! Feel The Illinoise” by Sufjan Stevens: Stevens once promised to write an album for each of the 50 states, which would have come in handy for this list. He seems to have stopped at Illinois, perhaps realizing he’d have a hard time topping the brilliant album containing this song.
“A State Of Texas” by The Old 97’s: Here is a new offering from the alt-country troubadours that has the feel of a classic. There have been a lot of great songs written about the Lone Star State, but very few get in so much of the state’s many charms as this one.
“California Girls” by The Beach Boys: No offense to Katy Perry, but you can’t include California on this list without having The Beach Boys carrying the flag. The song was sturdy enough to survive David Lee Roth’s tongue-in-cheek version many years after its initial recording.
“Louisiana 1927” by Randy Newman: We’re going out on a somber note, as Newman recalls a flood that devastated Louisiana and Mississippi. Its theme of governmental neglect for poor citizens proved sadly prophetic in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Are there any that I’ve l missed? Let me know what worthy state songs I may have left out.