8 - 15
From the album XO comes this gem of a song, Smith’s surreal and melodically gorgeous take on a day spent in a drug-fueled endeavor. Replete with a captivating Rhodes, Smith exclaims in his beautiful and tragic voice that he’s “going to spend the day higher than high”.
9. “Almost Independence Day” – Van Morrison
The mighty Van Morrison croons away about the holiday on this soulful and tender track from his album St. Dominic’s Review. In true Morrison fashion, he explores his emotions in repetition and pure poetic form, stating “I can hear the fireworks up and down, up and down the San Francisco bay.”
10. “4th of July” – U2
An often overlooked (and very short) track from their 1985 Eno/Lanois produced masterpiece The Unforgettable Fire. Although an instrumental, it captures a band developing in their quest for emotional guitar soundscapes.
11. “Jack Straw – Grateful Dead
Lyricist Robert Hunter pens a short scene in a tale of a travelin’ murderer named Jack Straw who tells the stories about his travels: “Leavin’ Texas, Fourth day of July. Sun so hot, the clouds so low, the eagles filled the sky. Catch the Detroit lightnin’ out of Sante Fe, the great northern out of Cheyenne, from sea to shining sea.” Bob Weir sings on this fan-favorite Grateful Dead song.
12. “Independence Day” – Ani DiFranco
This story of pained loss from the great songwriter Ani Difranco finds her pleading with resigned aspirations: “Don’t leave me here, I’ve got your back now you’d better have mine
cause you say the coast is clear, but you say that all the time.”
13. “4th of July” – Soundgarden
The grunge pioneers give the holiday a riveting approach on this track from their album Superunknown. Surreal imagery and a near-descent into madness ensue as Chris Cornell erupts with the chorus “‘Cause I heard it in the wind, and I saw it in the sky, and I thought it was the end, and I thought it was the 4th of July.”
14. “On the Fourth of July” - James Taylor
The gentle acoustic folk singer/songwriter embellishes on the tides of history and the mysteries of love on this track, “all on the fourth of July”.
15. “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” – Bruce Springsteen
Given the loss of the E Street Band mainstay and national treasure Clarence Clemmons, it seems only fitting that Bruce should get two songs on this list, especially one as endearing as this story of New Jersey romance. The song remains a crowd favorite, made even more bittersweet by Danny Federici’s trademark accordion part.
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// Notes from the Road
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