Here’s a list of songs that seem like they’re patriotic, but if you listen more closely their messages aren’t quite so pro-America. When creating your Fourth of July playlist, you should be more discriminating than just picking any song that has U.S.A. in the title or says ‘America’ in the chorus, since sometimes these songs can have a more critical message than it seems. The following songs are often mistaken for being patriotic, when their actual meaning is more complicated.
“American Pie,” Don McLean
The 1971 song “American Pie” is Don McLean’s long magnum opus about February 3, 1959, “The Day the Music Died,” when a plane crash killed early rock and roll pioneers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. The song’s many verses go on to chronicle the history of rock and roll, with many interpreting the “King” referred to in the song as Elvis, the “Jester” is Bob Dylan, and “the sergeants” the Beatles, as well as other references to important moments in rock history. While the tune is a celebration of American music, it is also a lamentation that all the great American music has died, and the conclusion is that since rock and roll is what offers our salvation, we all might as well die too.