The Non-Expert

Credit: Surian Soosay

The New American Music

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. From 2005, rather than Yankee-Doodling every Fourth of July, here are some patriotic melodies that are more fun to sing and easier to remember.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


Question: Every Fourth of July it’s the same old songs about America. But this year I want some new songs that people actually know the words to and might even look forward to singing. Any ideas? I’m hoping to bust these out at a family barbecue this year, so think fast. —Gina S.

Answer: It’s a delicate balance to strike—finding music that’s truly American (minus Mexico, Canada, and South America), yet still overflows with the patriotic overtones that will have you choked up during the final, dramatic movements of the fireworks show. Here, then, are some ideas for songs you may or may not already know the words to, and a little savvied up for those of you who bleed red, white, and blue, and who are not doing so because you’re hemorrhaging on popsicles.

The Third through Fifth Verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

[Lyrics by Francis Scott Key; here sung to the tune of Rush’s “Freewill,” music by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson]

On the shore, dimly seen,
Thro’ the mist of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host,
In dread silence reposes.

What is that which the breeze,
O’er the tower steep,
As it fitfully blows,
Half-conceals, half-discloses?

Now it catches the gleam,
Of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected,
Now shines on the stream.

“America the Beautiful”

[Original lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates, melody by Samuel Ward, emphasis by horny 15-year-old boys from across our great nation]

“Spacious Skies”
“Amber Waves”
“Purple Mountain Majesties”
“Fruited Plain”

[snickering plus chorus]

“Beautiful Dream”
“Sees Beyond the Years”
“Alabaster Cities”
“Human Tears”

[thousand-yard stare plus chorus]

“Born in the USA”

[Original lyrics by Bruce Springsteen]

Born down in a dead man’s town,
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground!
You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much,
Till you spend half your life just-a coverin’ up!

Born in the USA!
I was born in the USA!
I was born in the USA!
Born in the USA!

Got in a little hometown jam,

Born in the USA!
I was born in the USA!
I was born in the USA!
Born in the USA!

[redacted], [redacted]


Born in the USA!
I was born in the USA!
Born in the USA!
I’m a [redacted] daddy in the USA!
Born in the USA!
Born in the USA!
Born in the USA!
I’m a cool rocking daddy in the USA!

“The President Song”

[Sung to the tune of that song by My Chemical Romance]

Washington and Adams and Jefferson and Madison!
Mon-roe! Adams (Adams? Adams… Quin-cy Adams!)
Jackson, Van Buren and Harrison and Tyler!
Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, and Pierce! (Here we go now!)

Buchanan and Lincoln and Johnson and Grant!
Hayes! [pause] Garfield! [pause] Arthur!
And then a-Cleve-a-land-uh-Harr-ison-a-Cleve-a-land! (Touch me!)
McKinley! Roosevelt! Taft! And Wilson!

[Begin breakdown]

Harding… and-ah Co-oo-uh-lidge… and-ah Hoover… and-ah Roosevelt…
Then it’s Truman, and Eisenhower, and JFK (what else do I have to say?)!

John-son! Nix-on! Fo-o-o-o-o-o-ord!
Then Carter, then Reagan, then Bush, and Clinton!
And… and… we start all over again…
Let’s go!

[Repeat from beginning.]

“Freedom’s Liberty Is Waving Like a Flag Over the Land of the Free”

[Sung to the tune of “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa]

Bah-da-na-da-da! Da-da-da-da-da-duh!
Crash! Crash! Crash! Crash!
Duh-nuh-nuuuh, Duh-nuh-nuuuh,
Brrrap Brrrap Brrrap Brrrap,
Dah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah (dah-dah!) nah-nah (duh-dah-duh!)
Dah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah (dah-dah!) nah-nah (duh-dah-duh!)

[Repeat to end of parade or heatstroke, whichever comes first.]


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack