Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite "American" Songs

Yesterday, our fair country celebrated its 240th birthday.  In honor of this blessed occasion, this week's Tuesday Top Ten will feature my ten favorite songs with "America," "American," or "U.S.A" in the song title.  Here they are, in alphabetical order by artist:

Honorable mention:  "Banned In The U.S.A." by 2 Live Crew; "Spirit of America" by The Beach Boys; "Young Americans" by David Bowie; "America" by Neil Diamond; "Real America" by Rick Derringer; "L'America" by The Doors; "American Slang" by The Gaslight Anthem; "American Idiot" by Green Day; "Proud To Be An American" by Lee Greenwood; "American Boys" by Halestorm; "American Badass" by Kid Rock; "Rockin' in the USA" by Kiss; "American Nightmare" by The Misfits; "(You Can Still) Rock in America" by Night Ranger; "Kids In America" by Kim Wilde

1.  "Surfin' USA" by The Beach Boys
Before I discovered Def Leppard, The Beach Boys were my favorite band, and this was probably my favorite Beach Boys song.  I know the names of too many surf beaches as a result, and this song was one of the reasons I wanted to be a surfer when I was younger.

2.  "Living In America" by James Brown
I can remember seeing The Godfather of Soul perform this in Rocky IV, when the Cold War was at its height, and all any young American kid wanted to see was an aging Rocky Balboa beat the doping Russian cyborg, Ivan Drago.

3.  "Hello America" by Def Leppard
"Hello America" is off of Def Leppard's 1980 debut album, On Through The Night.  Back then, Def Leppard was grouped in with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and this song is definitely more NWOBHM than hair band.  It's hard rocking and fast paced, and you can hear elements of what the band would become. Steve Clark has a great solo about halfway through the song. When watching the video, keep in mind that drummer Rick Allen wasn't even 17 when this video was recorded.

4.  "R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A." by John Cougar Mellencamp
This is a nice rocking tribute to '60s rock and soul music.  And it would be impossible to have a list of "American" rock songs without something by The Coug.

5.  "American Woman" by The Guess Who
When I was young, I thought this was so strange because why would an American band be talking about an American woman?  It never dawned on me that there might be rock and roll bands from Canada.  Though redone several times since then (most notably by Lenny Kravitz), the original "American Woman" is still the most badass, gritty version of the song, featuring a bluesy acoustic intro, followed by fuzzy guitars and Burton Cummings's fantastic, wailing voice.

6.  "American Girl" by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Perhaps the most iconic Petty song, "American Girl" is actually pretty dark if you pay attention to the lyrics. Still a great song, though, no matter how many times you hear it.

7.  "Theme from Greatest American Hero" by Joey Scarbury
This song has to be at or near the top of the list of best TV theme songs of all-time. I'm including a video of the song being used as the theme song with clips from the show, rather than the full version of the song.  In case you are under the impression that I'm not old, I actually remember watching this show when it was on.

8.  "America" by Simon & Garfunkel
"America" is a mellow tribute to traveling across the country.  It was featured in Almost Famous, and anything that makes me think of that movie is positive.

9.  "Born in the U.S.A." by Bruce Springsteen
This is the first Springsteen song I really remember hearing as a kid, and I loved it, even though I really didn't understand what it's about -- and I'm not the only one.  Assumed by many politicians (including Ronald Reagan) to be a patriotic anthem, it's really about the struggles Vietnam vets faced when returning from war.  Regardless, it is a great song.  

10.  "Surf Wax America" by Weezer
An underrated, energetic gem from Weezer's iconic debut album, "Surf Wax America" is an apparent ode to living green, or at least surfing to work instead of driving.  Thanks to my Segway, I don't have to do either.

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