15 of the Best 4th of July Songs in Rock Music

by Josh Antonuccio

1 July 2011

Wondering where songwriters have paid homage to the Fourth of July in their songs? Here are 15 notable examples of references to the American holiday.

1. “Independence Day” – Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen’s reckons with his father in this utterly mesmerizing and heartbreaking take on the breakdown of Father and Son from The River, with the Boss ultimately lamenting that he has to “say goodbye, it’s Independence Day” as he departs from his father.


2. “4th of July” - Galaxie 500

Dean Wareham and company explore the day through the lens of shoegazer textures and the story of an anti-hero shutting himself in for the day. The track begins with the amazing line: “I wrote a poem on a dog biscuit and your dog refused to look at it.”


3. “Tears of Rage” – The Band

The brilliant opening track off of the Band’s Music From Big Pink leads off with this haunting scene: “We carried you in our arms on Independence Day. And now you’d throw us all aside and put us on our way. Oh, what dear daughter ‘neath the sun would treat a father, so to wait upon him hand and foot and always tell him ‘No?’ Tears of rage, tears of grief, Why am I the one who must be the thief? Come to me now, you know we’re so alone and life is brief.” Pure genius.


4. “Fourth of July” – X

L.A. punk troubadours X explore the 4th of July with John Doe’s tale of a heartbroken, lovesick man smoking cigarettes alone, wishing for his love to return. Doe pleads “what ever happened I apologize, so dry your tears and baby walk outside, it’s the Fourth of July.”


5. “Born on the Bayou” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

CCR’s classic track finds John Fogerty with the instantly recognizable guitar riff and his trademark vocal grit, thinking about the holiday in the memories of his youth, “I can remember the Fourth of July runnin’ through the backwood bare. And I can still hear my old hound dog barkin’ chasin’ down a hoodoo there.”


6. “This One’s From the Heart” – Tom Waits

Tom Waits’ duet with Crystal Gale on this Francis Ford Coppola soundtrack captures him drinking the day away in trademark barstool romantic fashion: “I should go out and honk the horn, it’s Independence Day. But instead I just pour myself a drink. It’s got to be love, I’ve never felt this way. Oh baby, this one’s from the heart.”


7. “4th of July” – Aimee Mann

Another tale of heartbreak and longing on Independence Day, this one from the high priestess of melancholic songwriting. Reflecting on love lost, Mann wonders, “If when you are older, someday you’ll wake up and say, ‘My God, I should have told her—what would it take?’”

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