Top Twelve Most Patriotic Songs Ever

Pete Seeger, performing at his 90th birthday celebration at New York's Madison Square Garden in 2009. PBS

Peter Rothberg is the Associate Publisher for Special Projects at Nation

I've always thought that the best things about America can usually be found embodied in our national music. In fact, as Peter Drier and Richard Flacks observed in a 2002 Nation article, "Most Americans are unaware that much of our patriotic culture--including many of the leading icons and symbols of American identity--was created by artists and writers of decidedly left-wing and even socialist sympathies."

That includes, most decidedly, our music. "A look at the songs sung at post-9/11 patriotic tribute events and that appear on the various patriotic compilation albums, or the clips incorporated into film shorts celebrating the 'American spirit,' reveals that the preponderance of these originated in the forgotten tradition of left-wing patriotism."

So, in honor of July 4th, here's my top twelve list of America's most patriotic songs (in random order), with accompanying videos. It's a highly subjective list which could go on and on, so please use the comments field below to cite your own favorites and we can have a happy argument about it.

Power and Glory, Phil Ochs







 


We Can't Make It Here Anymore, James McMurtry







Come All Ye Coal Miners, Sarah Ogan Gunning 







 


This Land is Your Land, Pete Seeger & Bruce Springsteen (Obama Inauguration Version)







 


We Almost Lost Detroit, Gil Scott-Heron







 


The House I Live In, Paul Robeson







 


Cortez the Killer, Dave Matthews Band with Warren Haynes covering Neil Young







 


Volunteers, Jefferson Airplane







 


The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, Christy Moore covering Bob Dylan







 


500 Miles, Rosanne Cash







 


A Change is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke







 


Lawyers, Guns and Money, Warren Zevon








The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.



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By Peter Rothberg:
Reprinted with permission from The Nation

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