U.S.A, A-Okay!



baldeagleWhat can I say? Some people are ecstatic with the election results. God bless those folks. Others are less enthused. “What, exactly, is supposed to be so great about this country?” they wonder. “Do I really want to live in a place where something like this can happen?”

Yes. Yes, you do. Because America is awesome. It’s amazing that we’re as civil as we are, given all the different types of people live within our borders. For the most part, we’re a progressive and thoughtful nation that gives opportunity to people from all walks of life. Stinky little things may happen here and there, but our still young and naturally rebellious country cannot be undone by one person, no matter how orange he is. Here’s a few songs about the American landscape; a few reminders that beauty still exists within the United States. It’s all over, if you know where to look.

Except for Buffalo, New York. That place is a shit hole.

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“Gene Autry” – Beulah

I don’t know about you, but I’m immediately thinking of the Pacific Coast, and not just because the lyrics literally talk about “California sand.” Sunny, yet bittersweet, the song perfectly synthesizes the feeling of sunset on the beach. The trumpet flourish midway through adds just the right amount of exoticism.

“This Land is Your Land” – Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie’s ode to the diversity and opportunity in this great land towers above the rest. Guthrie, like his protege Bob Dylan, was not immune to the allure of cynicism. Woody Guthrie understands that a little bit of cynicism is the American way. We only have it because we expect a lot from this country and we know the heights of which it is capable.

“New York City” – They Might Be Giants

Though the original recording was done by a (gasp) Canadian band called cub, the version I know was recorded by my beloved domestic TMBG. The two Johns inject the cover with just the right amount of trademark quirk while maintaining the winsome and endearing spirit of the original. I am an adopted Chicagoan, so I work extra hard hating on New York. It takes a lot to move me, and this track does the job.

America is deeply divided right now, but our open and public clashes of ideals are born out of a nation deeply committed to free expression. For those of you who feel good about America right now, that’s terrific. For those who don’t, you will again one day. For now, let a great song provide a possible bridge. We all rock in the same language.

Photo: By AWWE83 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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