10 Patriotic, Summer-Fun Songs for Fourth of July Festivities

To me, the flagship event of the summer is the Fourth of July party. Whether you barbecue, play golf, go to a baseball game or swim in the pool, the Fourth of July party can take many different forms and is the centerpiece of it all.

And while everybody is in a happy, party-hearty mood, the Fourth of July is the most important secular holiday in our nation’s history. And the United States is a fascinating story, with so much good to celebrate, but also unique challenges. So the music at your Fourth of July party should reflect many dimensions.

When thinking about a playlist for a Fourth of July party, I thought about music that could be heard different ways and from different perspectives. Make no mistake, this is a Fourth of July party and therefore the music is a good part fun and celebratory. But many of the songs contain deeper messages while still holding onto the fun. And hey, a good beat doesn’t hurt. One key element to selecting the best songs for your Fourth of July party is music that translates well to being turned up on the stereo. You should also think about musical range. Having range wide enough to include the troubadour Tom Petty and then the electric fiery guitar genius that Jimi Hendrix is what making the songs list at your Fourth of July party is all about.

So here they are. The songs that will help make your Fourth of July party both fun and memorable. I’ve put these in an order that I recommend. Which means there are exactly 3,628,800 other possible combinations to play them in and the same number of people who will prefer another order.

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10. America by Neil Diamond: Neil Diamond is so uncool that he’s hip. There is something about this tailored made Fourth of July song, no matter what kind of music fan that you are, that I think you’ll find irresistible. Something about the passion, the tightly crafted hooks and even the piped in crowd music. They’re coming to America!” Written in 1980, this song was released during a time in which the United States was feeling pretty low and it really served as a pick me up. Play it this year at your Fourth of July Party and think about how history really does keep repeating itself.

9. Independence Day by Martina McBride: A song that is actually not about the Fourth of July in a literal sense, but rather about a family getting away from an abusive father. Lyrically this is not the most obvious song to play at your Fourth of July party, but it is ultimately a song about strength and resolving to make a change, which is really what the holiday, and by extension, your Fourth of July party should be about.

8. Saturday in the Park by Chicago: No message here other than it’s Saturday (or a holiday) and you’re just loving life. And it must be the Fourth of July and a Fourth of a July party.

7. American Girl by Tom Petty: I know this song really presents the underside of the American dream in a sense, but America, and independence, is all about telling it like it is. Keep it real and play this at your Fourth of July party. The protagonist here isn’t an unlikeable girl, after all. Just human. And I haven’t met anybody who doesn’t like Tom Petty.

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6. God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood: I really don’t want to like this song. But I live in New York City and I saw 9/11 live. And I grew very fond of this song immediately thereafter. Not exactly a Fourth of July party song in the traditional sense, but positioned between two rockers, it’ll do fine at your Fourth of July party.

5. Rockin’ in the Free World by Neil Young: And you thought American Girl was a bit dark? Listen to this song at your Fourth of July party and try not to right away reach for the keg. Songs, like America, are all about perspective, personal perspective, and I choose to hear this as a grim tale but with a rocking and inspirational refrain. Despite all the problems, keep on rockin’ because it’s a free world. Whatever problems we face as a nation, we are free and we have the option, and really the responsibility, to keep speaking up. Others will hear it as a somewhat ironic sentiment, but I don’t. And I definitely wouldn’t while at a Fourth of July party, which is supposed to be about celebrating everything good about the country while not ignoring the bad.

4. Take it Easy by The Eagles: There’s no direct reference to the Fourth of July here at all, but if you’re not cruising with the Eagles at some point during your Fourth of July party, then what’s the point? They are named after America’s bird, after all, and they are checking out a girl in a Ford.

3. Star Spangled Banner by Jimi Hendrix: The ultimate counter culture icon translating the Star Spangled Banner into perhaps the most memorable rendition, and ultimately respectful, rendition ever. Not exactly something you can tap your foot to, but again, we’re trying to keep a variety of things song types here for your Fourth of July party.

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2. Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen: One of the reasons I like this song is due to how much it’s been misinterpreted. Ronald Reagan actually used it as a campaign song. Obviously, his campaign managers didn’t listen it. Mine is not a political statement, but just a statement how often music, or the lyrics, can be misinterpreted once one gets wrapped up in the music. And getting wrapped up in the music is what it’s all about at a Fourth of July party.

1. America The Beautiful by Ray Charles: Mr. Charles could sing the phone book and I would listen. But give him a beautiful song like this and it’s pure bone rattling, chill inspiring magic. Particularly given the era this man grew up in, and doing it without sight, and still be able to express such love and awe in his country is something that America is all about. The perfect song for your Fourth of July party.
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