American Girls and American Guys…
One of the things I love most about country music and country musicians is the ever apparent love for their country, the armed forces and how unapologetic they are about writing a song about just that. What is it about country music in particular? Why don’t we see more pop, rap, or rock artists singing about America? I would love to hear everyone’s opinion. It doesn’t mean country music and artists are better than other genres (that’s just my humble opinion). Maybe it just means that country music is filled with people who like me, who have no problem showcasing their love for America.
Country artists are a common sight overseas, as many participate in the USO program, which provides a little taste of home to those serving in some of the most dangerous places on the planet. Kelly Pickler, Toby Keith, Craig Morgan, Phil Vassar, Trace Adkins, and countless others take time from their busy tours and lives to show their support for our troops. Others like Miranda Lambert, George Strait, and LoCash perform at concerts that benefit the VA or give free concerts at military bases. Tim McGraw has given over 140 homes to military families. At each city on his tour he would give a mortgage free home to a deserving family. This didn’t make front page news and I’m sure Tim wouldn’t want it that way. It’s just a small token to show his appreciation for those who do so much for the rest of us.
If Toby Keith isn’t the first person that comes to mind when you think of some of the most powerful and influential patriotic country songs of the last 17 years, I’m not sure you can call yourself a true country fan. But let me enlighten you.
Keith wrote “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” in roughly 20 minutes, just days after the World Trade Center fell. Listen to the song this July 4th and I promise that when you hear the lyrics, “Cause we’ll put a boot in you’re a** it’s the American way,” you’ll be waving your stars and stripes high. Keith went on to release two other country focused tunes – “American Soldier” and “My List.” My List doesn’t seem like a patriotic song on the surface but it reminds people to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life, because as 9/11 showed, it only takes an instant for everything to change.
“Where Were You” earned Alan Jackson a Grammy and numerous other country music awards, and rightfully so. I wish I could quote the whole song, because it all rings true today, but the verse of “Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer, and look at yourself and what really matters” is a personal favorite. Although it was written in regards to what happened “that September day,” AJ wrote a masterpiece that still makes me re-evaluate my priorities in life.
Other songs to add to your Fourth of July playlist would include “Do You Remember?” by Darryl Worley; “Only in America” by Brooks and Dunn; “American Child” by Phil Vassar; “Stars and Stripes” by Aaron Tippin; and “Made in America” by Toby Keith, These are more up tempo patriotic songs, not necessarily focused on 9/11, but still express how good it really is to live in this country.
Maybe you want a slower song or maybe you want a good cry. I have you covered. “If I Don’t Make It Back” by Tracy Lawrence tells the story of a soldier who, spoiler alert, does not make it back. “If You’re Reading This” by Tim McGraw and “Arlington” by Trace Adkins are also able to trick you into thinking someone is chopping onions in the room.
My personal favorite is “I’m Already There” by Lonestar. Yes I know that it was released before 9/11, but do yourself a favor and check out the special version of the song. Commentary from wives, children and parents of soldiers serving overseas coincide with the lyrics, and it is just about the most powerful, and creative pieces of music I’ve ever heard on the radio.
Country music as an industry is unapologetically proud to be American. You see it in the songs and you see it through the artists when they show support for our military. It’s what we love about country music. It’s about real people and real things, created by authentic people, which makes it so relatable. Country music truly does bleed red, white, and blue. That’s what makes country music even more enjoyable. Let’s hope that never changes.
Happy Birthday America.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt, I love this land.
God Bless the U.S.A