Skip to main content

Happy Independence Day (updated)



Happy Independence Day/4th of July to our American Cousins! Seems appropriate we ( July 1, in Canada) have our birthdays so close together. And a hello to my new readers from blogarama.com!



When it comes to cover songs, I will never run out of blog ideas from the south, particularly when it comes to the roots of the blues, country and rock. Today I wanted to find some songs about the USA that focus on a Patriotic theme (not hard to find) but also have been a) covered by other artists and b) some that are not necessarily as 'pro' or at least painting a not so positive light on an aspect of American society and c) have been perhaps mis-interpreted by some.

Born in the U.S.A.” written by Bruce Springsteen from the album of the same name released in June 1984. My youngest sister and I went to see Bruce at the CNE stadium during this tour in July 1985, as always with Bruce, a great show. I have attached a link that includes lyrics, so you can see that this song is not very complimentary of the US involvement in the Vietnam War. Yet its anthem like format and the repeating of the “Born in the USA” line has made it somewhat of a point of nationalistic pride, rather than the anti-war protest song that it is.

Covered over 25 times, although most of them are not very good.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse covered this in 2014, interesting fact that Bruce and Neil shared a band member, Nils Lofgren was a founding member of Crazy Horse and later joined the E-Street Band.

Dierks Bentley, “Home” written by Dan Wilson, Brett Beavers and Dierks Bentley (Dierks played my hometown of  London June 30th, 2018). Clearly a patriotic tribute to the USA. Covered by Dan Wilson one of the co-writers

 The Beach Boys “Surfin'U.S.A. (1963) written by Brian Wilson (Mike Love uncredited) and Chuck Berry. Wait, Chuck wasn’t in the Beach Boys! Seems the writer(s) of the song followed the tune “Sweet Little Sixteen”, as I understand the story Chuck heard the song Surfin’ USA, and immediately recognized his song. Long story short Chuck got added to the songs credits, no doubt lawyers and record exec's got involved, money changed hands, royalties paid and everyone is happy! It's an upbeat song about the cool surfing crowd in the 1960’s, with a nod in the song to an Australian beach as well.  I know I’m not the only one to question Brian Wilson...while quite proper to acknowledge the amazing surfing in Australia, but why then call the song “Surfin’ U.S.A.”? Should be 'Surfin mostly in the U.S.A'! Nevertheless a great song!

Blind Guardian (1996), Jesus & Mary Chain (1988), Chris Farmer (2008), Chris toured with the Beach Boys from 1997-2007.

Lee Greenwood “God Bless the U.S.A.” seems to top the list as the most popular pro America song and there's no misinterpretation here. Covered about 20 times to date. Written by Lee Greenwood.
Covered by Home Free (2007)




Toby Keith is all over this Patriotic list with “American Soldier”, "Made in America" and "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue".
American Soldier written by Chuck Cannon and Toby Keith released in 2003, cover by the Deltones (btw not the Australian group “The Deltones”)

Interesting that this category includes songs (popular in the U.S.) written and recorded by Canadians, that being a previously blogged song “American Woman” by the Guess Who and “Rockin’ in the Free World” (aka the USA), by Neil Young.

 https://niagaraatlarge.com/2010/07/01/celebrating-canada-day-and-the-fourth-of-july-through-fearful-turbulent-times/, youtube.com.

If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it's not tracking in terms of anyone's identity. For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well or post it to your timeline on FB. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!



Comments

  1. For those interested a link to more American patriotic songs.

    https://www.billboard.com/articles/list/513475/america-songs-fourth-of-july-playlist

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Music Myths and other Silly Things

Music Myths and other Silly Things

Who doesn't like a good story? There are many great ones and some not so much about music. I try and put a little story into my blogs and during the course of my research I have run across some that are quite curious. Some of these myths about songs and artists have innocent enough beginnings and been perpetuated or at least not denied by the artists themselves, others come from malcontents and the misinformed.



Here is one that falls in the category of a silly thing; Bob Dylan and the 'Stealers Wheel' song "Stuck in the Middle with You", released in April, 1973.

1. Bob Dylan did not write this nor did he sing this song, nor is this song about Bob Dylan.

2. If you do a search for 'Dylan and Stuck in the Middle" you will get results like the following:
Home » Artists » Bob Dylan » Stuck In The Middle With YouBob Dylan - "Stuck In The Middle With You" lyricsBob Dylan: CD's Sheet Music Tablature, Stuck in the …

Rock artists sing the Blues

Rock artists sing the Blues

I have talked about this frequently throughout my posts but more particularly in the series on the Delta Blues and the History of R&R parts 1-4. Truth be told, most of the greatests 'Rock' artists owe much of their inspiration to the Blues. Rock bands and solo artists have cut many sides early and throughout their careers of blues songs. Thanks to artists like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley who were obviously very well known and successful, their covers of some of the great blues songs served as a conduit and exposed them to artists and listeners alike. Here are some 'Blues' that inspired Rock artists, a few of these songs are more well known than others.


Confessin' the Blues by The Rolling Stones was recorded  June 11, 1964 and released on a 7" record of five songs on August 14. Written by Walter Brown (vocals) and Jay McShann (piano and bandleader) originally released in June of 1941. Covered about 35 times including Chuck Berr…

Sweet Soul Music

Sweet Soul Music

Arthur Conley co-wrote this song with Otis Redding and it's a tribute to some of the early greats of Soul Music. The song's melody (and words for that matter) borrowed heavily from the Sam Cooke song "Yeah Man" and a subsequent lawsuit brought by A.W. Alexander who managed Cooke's songs after his untimely death added his name to the song credits. The resulting song however was a huge hit for Conley and it reached #2 on Billboard's Hot 100 and R&B Chart in 1967 and #7 in the UK where Soul Music was gaining popularity particularly amongst a subset of British youth. The lyrics reference the co-writer Otis Redding, James Brown and songs by The Miracles, Lou Rawls, Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett, some of the key figures in early Soul Music. "Sweet Soul Music" covered 30 times, The Jam (1977).

Soul music is a fusion of R&B, Gospel and Jazz. Know generally for it's more upbeat tempo it's fun to listen to and great for d…

One Hit Wonders (not!)

One Hit Wonders (not!)

Yesterday (Sept. 26) was the 50th Anniversary of Abbey Road, the Beatles last recording session together and the second last album before Let it Be was issued May 8, 1970. And also Happy belated One Hit Wonder Day! (Sept. 25th) so I thought it would make a good blog topic.


The simplest definition I found is from music journalist Wayne Jancik "an act that has won a position on a national, pop, Top 40 record chart just once." This from the 'The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders' (1998). So we aren't talking one #1 hit. It's not a term I like as it implies (and some truth to that) these artists have had just a brief moment in the spotlight, perhaps undeservedly so and then fallen off the music map. I know other and deeper definitions are a bit more broad and go beyond the absolute single hit idea. They also consider many artists that have still maintained a quality career and just not reproduced another 'top 40 hit' song and or ma…

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #51-75

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #51-75

There has been a very positive response to the first two 'Greatest' posts. So the list continues and the songs become no less in their timeless quality compared to numbers one through fifty. I will post a #76-100 edition in the near future and that will be out of my system. But what if I do lists by genre, just thinking out loud, sorry but I will keep blogging on various topics as long as people continue to click.

51. "I Put a Spell on You" written and originally recorded by Screamin' Jay Hawkins in 1956. There have been many really good covers of this song but Nina Simone (1965) was just the second person to cover this song. I just can't get over how overlooked this artist was in her time, a high class version that turns the song on it's ear to give it an entirely different sound.


52. "Strange Fruit" was a courageous recording by the legendary Billie Holliday from 1939. A song written as a poem by another …

Old Country New Country

Old Country/New Country


What exactly I am about to attempt to demonstrate I confess I'm not 100% certain, but what I do know is that there has been a bit of a downward sliding scale regarding the enduring quality of mainstream Country Music songs. Apologies in advance for rambling and ranting at various points. This is not a history of Country Music but my opinion on the current state of things in general with the genre.

It's murky waters that I'm swimming in here as there is an evolution involved in any music genre so direct comparisons are perhaps inappropriate. I am somewhat aware of the influence the so called Country Music "establishment" has had on this evolution. One need only look at examples like Taylor Swift, Shania Twain and Garth Brooks and others who were criticized and in some cases "shunned" for their unconventional approaches who are now celebrated as part of that same 'establishment'. So there is some hypocrisy at play in my op…

Radiohead

Radiohead



When talking about the band I have to confess I'm out of my depth so I will tread lightly. We should however get right to their beginnings and major influence, that being the 'Talking Heads' and their namesake song "Radio Head". The band had been called 'On a Friday' but their record label requested they change it before signing a contract (with EMI records) in 1991.
Radiohead are one of the most successful and influential Rock bands since their debut album "Pablo Honey' (Jerky Boys) in February of 1993. All their songs are credited to the entire band Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Phil Selway and Thom Yorke. And there's the 'sixth member' producer Nigel Godrich who's done all their albums since 1994. Their song "Creep" charted top 40 across the world and it's depressing tone eventually wore the band down to the point they stopped playing it live for a long period of time. The songs melo…

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #26-50

The next 25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #26-50

In part one I listed 25 of the greatest cover songs and to date it's been my most viewed blog post. There are so many more I wanted to add to the list so depending on the response, I'm prepared to follow with 51-75 and 76-100 in the future.

This list in part comes from many of the songs that I have already posted in the past 15 months or so since I started blogging. As for how songs make it on my list there are a few criteria, while I don't dismiss music from more recent years a song has to have stood the test of time for me, hence much of the list are songs of some vintage and just plain old, like the writer. Next, the original song itself must have some character and some degree of popularity. And preferably the artist and or songwriters are of interest as well. I have read other lists of great cover songs from books, articles and google searches and you'll find much similarity, but some of them contain songs I just don…

Aretha Franklin: Remembering the Gospel, Soul and Pop music Virtuosa

Remembering Aretha Franklin, a story… through cover songs
On the first anniversary of her passing, another homage to one of the greatest voices of all time. I paid tribute to her and some of her most memorable cover songs on August 16 of last year, but there are many more to talk about.

If you know anything about Aretha Franklin then you will know that the Church and Gospel Music was a big part of her life. I myself do enjoy the odd Gospel song, particularly ones I’ve discovered from the likes of the unbelievably talented Sister Rosetta Tharpe . Also some of the other singers I regularly enjoy such as Elvis or Johnny Cash, mostly because of the vocal intensity and the connections I can draw to popular music. But this particular song from Aretha just blew me away.Considering this was a live recording of not the greatest technical quality with lots of background distraction, ‘believer’ or not you won’t be able to not feel something when you listen.
Precious Lord”, Aretha Franklin was re…

Country Rock

Country Rock


Music genres attempt to be definitive but are still typically full of a good spectrum of divergent styles. In order to pigeon hole artists we have over time developed other genres, sub and sub sub genres. Country music has over two dozen including; Classic Country, Country Pop, Blues Country and even Country rap.

Most Artists can be placed in more than one category but we tend to want to associate them most closely with a specific one. I've read that Country Rock came from Rock bands doing more Country flavored music not Country artists doing rock music. But I've found there are many early examples of Country music sounding pretty rock-like and I have included some examples below. We don't always tend to identify music and genres in the early stages of development and in many cases it's done quite retroactively. I've talked about a few artists thought to be 'Rock' that started to record with a more Country music feel, back as early as the 1950…