An American Playlist
A fourth of July examination of patriotism through the songs of iconic American artists
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” — John Denver (1971)
Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue ridge mountains, Shenandoah river
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze
The American great outdoors are under attack by its own Government.
Despite America’s tradition of celebrating and protecting its natural parks and forests, the US Government now actively denies the existence of climate change.
The 45th US President put American citizens and resources in imminent peril when he pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord and dismantled US climate policy.
“American Girl” — Tom Petty (1976)
After all it was a great big world
With lots of places to run to
And if she had to die tryin’
She had one little promise she was gonna keep
American girls face some of the most dangerous conditions on earth.
The United States was recently ranked joint third with Syria for the most dangerous UN countries for women facing sexual violence, harassment, and coercion into sex.
The United States came in 10th for overall danger to women.
“Refugee” — Tom Petty (1979)
Somewhere, somehow, somebody
Must have kicked you around some
Who knows, maybe you were kidnapped
Tied up, taken away, and held for ransom
The American Government kidnaps children for ransom.
A 24 year old father was recently coerced into abandoning his asylum case, signing voluntary deportation paperwork out of “desperation” to see his 6-year-old daughter again. He will likely be repatriated to his violence-torn home country in a matter of weeks. “I signed it out of desperation,” he said, “but the truth is I can’t go back to Honduras; I need help.” This is one of many similar stories happening to American families daily.
“Born In The USA” — Bruce Springsteen (1984)
Got in a little hometown jam
So they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and kill the yellow man
You can fight for America, but you can’t be an American.
It’s long been an American tradition for judges to offer young criminals the chance to enlist in the military instead of serving jail time for first time offenses.
That tradition came to life for undocumented Americans in the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest program, or MAVNI, which has created a pathway to citizenship through military service for more than 10,000 people.
In 2018, the US Military quietly closed the offices that processed US service member applications for citizenship, suggesting an impending end to program, violating the commitment the US Government made to thousands of young people willing to serve.
“Dear Theodosia” — Leslie Odom, Jr and Lin-Manuel Miranda (2015)
You will come of age with our young nation
We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you
If we lay a strong enough foundation
We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you
The American Government traumatizes children and families.
In 2018, the 45th President of United States enacted a zero-tolerance policy, requiring Immigration Control Enforcement (ICE) officers to detain and prosecute as many border-crossers as possible.
As a direct result, approximately 3000 children were forcibly removed from their parents and placed in detention facilities and tent cities with no end in sight.
In addition, the US Government continues to carryout workplace raids that detain and deport some of the countries poorest and most vulnerable workers, leaving their children to fend for themselves in America.
“XXX” — Kendrick Lamar (feat. U2) (2017)
Hail Mary, Jesus and Joseph
The great American flag
Is wrapped and dragged with explosives
Compulsive disorder, sons and daughters
Barricaded blocks and borders
Look what you taught us
It's murder on my street, your street, back streets
Wall street, corporate offices, banks
Employees and bosses with homicidal thoughts
Donald Trump's in office, we lost Barack
And promised to never doubt him again
But is America honest or do we bask in sin?
The US President is openly corrupt.
The 45th US President has rejected ethical norms embraced by all other administrations since the 1970s. He has monetized the presidency and continues to do so in plain sight.
“It’s hard for the United States to pursue international anticorruption and ethics initiatives when we’re not even keeping our own side of the street clean,” Walter Shaub, former head of the Office of Government Ethics, told the New York Times after stepping down from his post.
“Americans” — Janelle Monae (2018)
Hold on, don’t fight your war alone
Halo around you, don’t have to face it on your own
We will win this fight
Let all souls be brave
We’ll find a way to heaven
We’ll find a way
In America, dissent is patriotic. And it’s the new normal.
Approximately four million people participated in The Women’s March on Inauguration Day, 2017. That’s more people than make up the US Military.
“This is America “— Childish Gambino (2018)
This is America (skrrt, skrrt, woo)
Don’t catch you slippin’ up (ayy)
Look at how I’m livin’ now
Police be trippin’ now (woo)
Yeah, this is America (woo, ayy)
Guns in my area (word, my area)
I got the strap (ayy, ayy)
I gotta carry ‘em
American law enforcement disproportionally kills and oppresses black citizens.
Black Americans are more likely to be shot by police than their white peers.
Black people are more likely to be arrested for drugs, even though they’re not more likely to use or sell them. And black inmates make up a disproportionate amount of the prison population.
This playlist was co-curated by Brad Clapper.