America in music

It’s a big old Stars and Stripes, star spangled banner day today as Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States. There was a lot of talk about the founding fathers, the spirit of America … and Aretha Franklin rocking the joint in a hat with a big bow on it. And spookily enough a mashup utilising David Bowie’s This is not America is playing on my headphones.

Which has got me thinking about American music. Who are the bands and the artists that spring to mind?

  • Bruce Springsteen, troubadours and poets like Bob Dylan
  •  Motown  (the sound of the Motor City record label still sounds righteous at the age of 50. A recent Guardian poll tried to find the top Motown tune … what a task. I plumped for “Just my imagination” by The Temptations)
  • Madonna, Michael Jackson,  Hip hop and rap, Run DMC,  The Mamas and the Papas, Janis Joplin, Country,  Dolly Parton, Robert Johnson, Kanye West, Diana Ross, Elvis, Gershwin, Cole Porter … ok now I have made my head spin.

What song says America to you??

6 thoughts on “America in music

  1. joyciescotland 21 January 2009 / 7:59 pm

    United States of Whatever- Liam Lynch

  2. Tom 21 January 2009 / 10:35 pm

    Hendrix’s feedback soaked version of Star Spangled Banner is pretty hard to go past. But then there is ‘California Dreaming’…

  3. Belinda 22 January 2009 / 9:24 am

    It has to be something from Springsteen, I think. Maybe ‘The River’ or ‘The Rising’. That gritty, achingly sad but hopeful stuff gets me every time.

  4. shug 22 January 2009 / 11:17 am

    Should be “This land is your land” by Woody Guthrie.

  5. cliniclulu 22 January 2009 / 1:18 pm

    I just immediately think of “American Music” by Violent Femmes, and then … you can guess the era I grew up in … somehow Sigue Sigue Sputnik seems to be the ultimate expression of American-ness in my formative early listening experience.

  6. Marion 22 January 2009 / 5:30 pm

    I’m thinking Stephen Foster – Hard Times. He is someone whose songs still resonate with modern performers – Mavis Staples, the McGarrigle Sisters have all got in to his songs. The library has a CD Beautiful Dreamer with an interesting lineup of performers – Mavis, Michelle Shocked, John Prine etc which is buried in Easy Listening but I’ve just got out and am looking forward to.
    Re Obama celebrations Aretha was great but would have loved to hear Mavis Staples ripping in to “Eyes on the Prize”

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