A site where I get to complain about music I don't like.
Songs are often misconstrued as being about something they’re not. For a quick list, “Semi-Charmed Life” is not about anything happy, “Mercedes Benz” shouldn’t be used to sell cars, and “One”, “Every Breath You Take”, and “The One I Love” should never be used at a wedding. But there’s one that always sticks out to me, and for a special 4th of July post, I’m talking about Mistakenly Patriotic Songs. So let’s get started.
America’s long proud history of not getting their songs straight stems from our early days as a country., back during the American Revolution. “Yankee Doodle” was originally used by the English as a way to mock the disorganized look of the American troops. Eventually, the American side used the song as a way to get back, basically saying that they don’t care how they insult them. Nowadays, the song has lost its original meaning, and is just believed to be a typical patriotic song. Even more typical then most people realize.
Since I already talked about “Born in the USA” twice before, so I’m going to talk about the other two commonly cited examples, “Fortunate Son” and “Pink Houses”. Both have been used semi-regularly used for rallies as patriotic songs, when both show an at least mixed view on the country. “Pink Houses” writer John Mellencamp has said that he loves his country, but many of his songs were about the hardships of living there along with the triumphs. But “Pink Houses” is often used due to its chorus, which even after knowing the lyrics and meaning to the song, does sound very patriotic. “Fortunate Son: has its problem, not in the chorus, but in the first two lines. With the lines that are the title of this article, people assume that the song is a patriotic tune about America. Those who listen further, however, know that the song is really about a man in government using his power to keep their son out of the draft, making it a protest song. This one was most famously used for an ad for jeans, which were soon pulled after angry comments from John Fogerty.
But neither of those became as huge and misunderstood as Woody Guthrie’s eternal classic “This Land is Your Land”. I am fairly certain that almost all of America knows the first verse to this song by heart, but in case you don’t:
This land is your land
This land is my land
to the New York Islands
From the Red Wood Forests
To the Gulf Stream Waters
This land was made for you and me.
That verse is a pretty good base line for Patriotism. But most people make the mistake of not listening past the first verse. The song itself was written as a critical response to “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin, a gospel song about how great America is, which Woody said was unrealistic. The song itself is an attack on the government during The Great Depression, where people couldn’t eat or live anywhere. The song really is a questioning look on whether the government really does care about the people who live under it, when the people can’t eat where the land is so fruitful. The first verse is there to show the beauty of the land, but people took it as support for the government, which it isn’t in any way, shape or form.
So basically, all the songs that you believe are patriotic are in the very least mixed in their views. Hope I didn’t ruin your 4th of July!
Note: I hope you all look forward to hearing Firework.