Classic American songs to celebrate our country’s Independence Day

William Malsam

It’s the Fourth of July — time to break out the barbecues, beer and fireworks. I’m sure most of you will be getting together with friends and family with the intention of having fun and blowing something up. Here are a few suggestions for the soundtrack to your Independence Day celebration.

“Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley. Rock ‘n’ roll — one of America’s greatest creations. Formerly condemned for the way he shook his hips, let the king of rock ‘n’ roll move you this holiday while your friends set up the Slip ‘N Slide.

“Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Few singers sound more American than John Fogerty, and even less give a more passionate performance than “Fortunate Son.” Written to protest the draft, this song demonstrates the beauty of free speech while providing an inspiring score for a game of backyard football.

“Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen. You can’t forget about “The Boss” or his famous red, white and blue jeans album cover. After a few patriotic cans of Budweiser, this is a great song to sing with your fellow drinkers.

“Summerwind” by Frank Sinatra. When you putting your arm around your best gal (or guy), there’s nothing better than the sultry voice of “Ol’ Blue Eyes.” Sung by one of the most iconic voices in American history, this song of summer romance is a sensual way to start off, or rejuvenate, your own.

“Ballad of Ira Hayes” by Johnny Cash. One of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century, this philosopher prince of country tells the heart wrenching tale of Ira Hayes, a Native American marine who helped raise the flag at Iwo Jima, only to return home and succumb to self destruction in the form of alcohol addiction. It’s a simple reminder to support and cherish our veterans this Independence Day.

“Surfin’ USA” by The Beach Boys. Considered “America’s Band,” this upbeat group has a perfect summer sound, especially if you are lucky enough to escape the heat and celebrate poolside.

“American Pie” by Don McLean. Truly a karaoke classic, it remembers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and Big Bopper, three great American songwriters who tragically died in a plane crash. But this track is more than eight minutes long, and I think even Don McLean wouldn’t complain if you changed the song after four minutes, once everyone has forgotten the words.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key. Celebrating the victory of the Battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key wrote this song for more than just sports games. When your bottle rockets produce their own ‘red glare,’ nothing is more appropriate than our national anthem on Independence Day. Find your favorite rendition and play it loudly.

Of course, these are merely suggestions. Sometimes the best soundtrack to the holiday are the sounds of laughter from your friends and family over the soothing sizzle of the grill.