#SaturdaySongs No.18 – Independence Day

[As it is Saturday, and this post contains songs, it seemed a good opportunity to badge it as part of my now very occasional #SaturdaySongs series. In doing so, I realised that somehow my numbering system for this series had gone a bit haywire, so bear with me if the menu still looks odd at the time you read this!]

Today is 4th July which, as any American will tell you, is celebrated there as Independence Day. This dates back to the signing of the Declaration of Independence on 4th July 1776, by the 13 Colonies which were later to join together as the United States of America. I won’t detain you with the full history lesson, as there are many places in which you can read about it, but suffice it to say that this was the upshot of their treatment at the hands of King George III – to their minds, this amounted to tyranny. He later descended into mental illness – now believed to be the result of suffering from porphyria, a genetic disease – and the history books haven’t been kind to him. He is, however, one of the British monarchs whose story has been the subject of a movie, as QEII has found, and there are some others, such as Queen Victoria. In case you missed it, the George III movie was called The Madness Of King George, and you can get a taste of it from this trailer:

The Declaration came some three years after a now well known event, which was probably a major catalyst for the subsequent American Revolutionary War, which ran from 1775 to 1783, until peace was agreed and the UK formally recognised the new USA. The American Colonies had been outraged by the way they were taxed, in particular over tea, and in 1773, tea ships moored in Boston Harbour were boarded by colonists and the tea was thrown overboard, an event that became known as the Boston Tea Party. This is the excuse for my first song today. I’m guessing that this will be unfamiliar to many, but I thought you’d like to see a song by a Scottish rock band written from their perception of the American viewpoint. I’ve always felt this song to have a feel of menace about it – I’d be interested to know if you agree after you’ve heard this:

That’s it for my pseudo-history lesson: you’ll no doubt be pleased to know that the remaining ‘Independence Day’ songs share that title and, in a couple of cases, reference the date, but they are actually dealing with a different kind of independence. The first one is relatively recent – the album it is on came out in March this year – and is by one of the leading ‘UK country’ bands. Yes, that is a ‘thing!’ I’ve followed them since they started, and this is fairly typical of them; the metaphor of 4th July as being the day of independence from a failed relationship is the starting point for an uplifting piece that looks to the future:

To date, The Shires have yet to dent the US charts, though they have toured with the likes of Shania Twain and Carrie Underwood. All four of their albums have topped the UK Country Chart though, and have reached the top 10 in the overall albums chart. I hope they reach that wider audience – I think they deserve it.

Having begun with two British acts I’m now turning to the US: it seems right that I do! One of the biggest songs to carry this title is by Martina McBride:

As I know that song so well I was surprised to find that it only reached no.12 in the US Country Chart in 1994, and didn’t make the top 100 pop chart at all. Nevertheless it has sold over 500,000 copies so it hasn’t done badly! One thing that isn’t, I think, widely known about the song is that it was written by Gretchen Peters, who just happens to be one of my favourite singer-songwriters. Gretchen has also recorded it, and it features often in her live performances, as here:

If you listen to the lyrics you’ll hear that the song is about an abused woman who ‘celebrated’ Independence Day in very dramatic fashion. The song is very powerful: I’ve heard Gretchen play it live and it really is one of those ‘hairs on the neck’ moments. It won her the CMA award for best song in 1995 and was also nominated for a Grammy that year, though it didn’t win. If you want to find it, it was on Gretchen’s first album The Secret Of Life, released in 1996, and has been on compilations too.

My final selection for today is a pretty obvious choice: you’ve probably been wondering when I’d get around to it. Fear not, I’m nothing if not predictable! This one is by one of my all-time favourite artists. You may have heard of the Boss:

That song was on Bruce Springsteen’s fifth studio album, The River, released in 1980. It is up there with his best, I think, and has so many great tracks on it. It has sold upwards of 7m copies – not bad for a double album! Springsteen fans will know that I had another possible choice from him: 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) from his album The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle but I prefer this one, sorry!

To me, it is interesting to see how three songwriters have taken the theme of independence as their starting point but have gone in different directions: firstly, the failed relationship, secondly the drastic action to spare a woman and her daughter from abuse, and finally the son who realises that for the sake of both himself and his father, he needs to move away to preserve any chance they may have of a relationship. But none of them are political – it took a Scotsman to do that!

As it is your day, America, I think it fitting that, after my musical trawl through various kinds of independence, I should let your Founding Fathers have the final words:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Happy Independence Day!

21 thoughts on “#SaturdaySongs No.18 – Independence Day

  1. browney237 July 5, 2020 / 11:19 pm

    An interesting array of songs as always. I quite enjoy the English country artists I’ve heard in recent times – I’m a big fan of Ward Thomas.
    Springsteen’s “River” album is such an interesting album, not my favourite in Springsteen’s but one that just can’t be ignored. Independence Day is a classic and wonderful live. From my viewpoint, I who would have picked “4th of July Ashbury Park(Sandy)” as it‘s a true favourite of mine.
    Apologies for not responding to your recent music posts, I read and enjoy them all. 😀👍

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive July 6, 2020 / 4:42 pm

      I’m glad you liked them, Michael. The Shires and award Thomas are the best known and supported, but we have several others coming up: I particularly like Morganway, and there are also the Wandering Hearts and the Heartland Roots Band. Others too – watch this space!

      The River is one of my favourite Springsteen albums, and I still prefer Independence Day to Sandy, sorry!

      I’m grateful to you and to anyone who reads, likes or comments on my posts – it isn’t compulsory 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim Borden July 4, 2020 / 8:39 pm

    I had not heard of the King George movie, but quite a coincidence that we were watching Hamilton today on TV. And Bruce’s Independence Day is one of his many great songs.

    I’ve never heard of the Alex Harvey band – but I do like that Scottish brogue…

    Thanks for the shout-out to the U.S. !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive July 4, 2020 / 9:00 pm

      I don’t remember who it was but I mentioned the movie to someone in a comment the other day: I must have been getting ready for this post! A recommend it, it’s one of those that makes you laugh and cry too. Bruce has been making great albums for nearly 50 years and his back catalogue is stuffed with superb songs.

      I thought the SAHB would be an outlier for most, but couldn’t resist getting it in there – his accent is pure Glaswegian!

      Hope you’re having a great Independence Day 🇺🇸

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jim Borden July 4, 2020 / 9:08 pm

        I’ll have to look for the King George movie, thanks for the recommendation. And as you know, Bruce is my favorite musician.

        And it’s a relatively quiet 4th here – no parades, limited fireworks, closed bars…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive July 4, 2020 / 9:16 pm

        It has a great cast, which is often a good recommendation in itself. And I’d watch anything with Helen Mirren in it, even if she keeps her clothes on 😉

        Bruce is one of my favourites too.

        I imagine it’s a bit strange there, despite (or maybe because of) the Mt Rushmore rally. We had a kind of independence today: pubs in England were allowed to reopen from 6am. Can you imagine being that desperate for a drink!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jim Borden July 5, 2020 / 3:18 am

        I saw a brief news clip on the news tonight of the pubs opening in England! Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive July 5, 2020 / 9:38 am

        Followed shortly by the news of drunks causing trouble and pubs having to close early – lockdown no.2 awaits…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jim Borden July 5, 2020 / 9:12 pm

        I’m not optimistic; that’s how it has played out in the U.S. …

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive July 5, 2020 / 9:26 pm

        We seem to be following the same path as you…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jim Borden July 5, 2020 / 10:29 pm

        The best advice is to not follow what we are doing…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive July 5, 2020 / 10:32 pm

        Unfortunately, following trends set in the States is something we’ve been doing for years – we’ve even elected a dangerous, incompetent clown as our leader just to be like you…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. tidalscribe July 4, 2020 / 5:53 pm

    Every year I like to read the first few words of the declaration. We hold these truths to be self evident. Not a religious or political proclamation just the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive July 4, 2020 / 6:01 pm

      It’s a shame that religion and politics invade everything. I think we’d be better off without them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. petespringerauthor July 4, 2020 / 5:19 pm

    Springsteen is good 365 days of the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Darlene July 4, 2020 / 12:15 pm

    All great songs. Thanks for including The Boss!! I really like The Shires, thank for introducing me to them. I loved the movie The Madness of King George. So well done and Helen Mirren is amazing, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive July 4, 2020 / 12:59 pm

      Glad you liked them, and it’s always good to introduce something new to someone. Helen Mirren really is a national treasure isn’t she!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Clive July 4, 2020 / 11:20 am

      Thanks, Robbie. It’s a great song, isn’t it 😊

      Liked by 1 person

Please leave a reply, I'd like to know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.