10 Proud Songs About America
Country music is known for its ability to create some outstanding songs about America. From patriotic anthems to protest tunes, country artists know how to sing about their home sweet home. Sometimes the songs are inspired by current events, and sometimes they are just simple love songs to the nation that allowed the artists to achieve their dreams. But one thing connects them all: a passion for the USA.
When putting together a playlist for any patriotic holiday, country songs are going to be the best genre to pull from, and a handful of go-to songs about America is crucial. To help get you started in showing off your national pride, we've compiled a list of our Top 10 below.
Though Faith Hill's “American Heart” may not be one of her most well-known tunes, it’s an inspiring tribute to the to the strength and beauty of the American people and the thread that connects us all. The upbeat tune is a charming testament to the diversity and hard-working individuals present in this nation. Hill describes the “American heart” by connecting it to unique aspects of American culture in vivid metaphors: “beats like a drum down in New Orleans,” “bigger than the Texas sky.” Though America is diverse, we all share this unbreakable spirit, Hill says. The anthem was released in 2012 as a standalone single and hit No. 26 on the U.S. Country Airplay charts.
This summer jam, though not a song about the country itself per se, celebrates growing up in everyday rural America — a life branded with RVs, barbed wire fences, red dirt and MTV. Kenny Chesney’s “American Kids" also weaves in clever references to iconic American songs like Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” and "Pink Houses” by John Mellencamp. Its youthful, vintage vibe is washed in a sense of Americana atypical of this generation’s popular music. “There’s so much more to being alive than partying, tailgates and bonfires,” Chesney said of the tune. “American kids are so much more complicated, more fun, more real.” Released in June 2014, “American Kids” was a No. 1 hit for Chesney off his record The Big Revival.
Waylon Jennings had some “outlaw” in him, which explains why this tune has a bit of a “protest song” edge to it. Though he does clearly sing in tribute to his home country of America, he also implores the country to take a look at a few things that need addressing. “The men who could not fight in a war that didn’t seem right, you let them come home, America," he sings. He goes on to say that people of all races deserve to be treated equally, and that Native Americans in particular “is right to expect a little from you,” urging the nation to “promise, and then follow through.” Overall, though, the song is a tribute to the country he calls “home sweet home” from Tennessee all the way to California, and it’s hard to make a complete list of country songs about America without it. It was released in 1984 on Jennings’ second Greatest Hits record and hit No. 6 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.
Brad Paisley’s "American Saturday Night" is a quirky tribute to all the cultures that blend together to form our American identity. The artist runs through several international exports enjoyed by a typical American — Brazilian boots, a German car, Italian ice, Spanish moss — all of it combines in the great Melting Pot, or blender, as Paisley would rather characterize it. “Everywhere has something they’re known for,” he sings. “Oh, but usually washes up on our shores.” Paisley notes the uniqueness of Chinatown next to Little Italy in New York City, a juxtaposition you only really see in the U.S. of A. The song was the third single released from the album of the same name in 2009, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country chart.
Willie Nelson is often the embodiment of patriotism, if a little on the hippie side. He is clearly proud to be a part of this nation, evidenced by his time in the Air Force, his activism including Farm Aid and a benefit after 9/11, and a commitment to bettering the country in which he lives. “Living in the Promiseland” is a testament to that commitment. The tune, written by David Lynn Jones, was released in 1986 as the lead-off single from his album The Promiseland. It was the legend’s 12th No. 1 single as a solo artist, and it urges the nation to maintain its identity as a community of former wanderers, welcoming in those who need a place to call home. “Our dreams are made of steel,” he sings. “The prayer of every man is to know how freedom feels. There is ... room for everyone living in the promiseland."
Originally written in response to the Iran Hostage Crisis in the late '70s to early '80s, “In America” is a sort of battle cry, a warning to enemies about the strength of the American character and refusal to back down from a fight. It was re-released in 2001, with an accompanying live music video, after the 9/11 attacks, gaining renewed support for its call for unity and bravery in the face of uncertainty. Many Americans rallied behind the song in a time when fear was very present in the country’s consciousness. Its classic Charlie Daniels style and attitude make it a perfect addition to our list of the best country songs about America.
Technically, “Ragged Old Flag” could be considered more of a poem than a song, but the legendary Johnny Cash doesn’t have to follow the rules. The icon is known for his captivating storytelling, often told in part by spoken word, and this piece is one of his most inspirational. Cash's pride in his country and its history shines through on this spoken word track. The artist wrote “Ragged Old Flag” and released it in 1974 amid the Watergate scandal as the title track to his record. It was also the only official single from the album. Though not a “song” per se, the piece still reached No. 31 on the Country Singles chart at the time. The three-minute recitation is worth listening to any time, but particularly to get in the right mindset on a patriotic holiday.
When you think “songs about America,” it’s hard not to think "Toby Keith." The artist has made a career on attitude-driven patriotism, and one of his most celebrated hits is "Courtesy of the Red White and Blue (The Angry American)." This song, released in 2002, hit a nerve for a country still reeling from the events of 9/11, a community of people looking for the right words to say and trying to process how they felt. Aside from the devastating sadness of it all, one emotion almost everyone could identify with was anger. Keith felt it, too, and put out this tune as an anthem for Americans who didn’t want to take this act of injustice lying down. It echoed a sentiment many people felt but didn’t know how to say, and though its irreverence is a little brash (subtlety is not Keith’s wheelhouse), it was cathartic for many listeners at the time. The No. 1 hit stands as one of the most honest depictions of the resilient attitude of a nation during dark time in American history.
It’s impossible to make a list of the top country songs about America without including “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood. Writing a song that becomes one of the handful of widely known patriotic anthems is no small feat, and Greenwood’s passionate tune has stood the test of time. Originally released in 1984, the song gained even more popularity amid the Gulf War in the early '90s. It was re-released in 2001 after the attacks on 9/11. Though an atypical style and subject matter, the song still reached No. 7 on the Billboard U.S. Country charts in 1984 and No. 16 in 2001. Though Greenwood charted seven other no. 1s in his career, “God Bless the USA” remains his most well-known and has officially made its way into the “American songs” canon.
This anthem from Brooks & Dunn was released just a few months prior to the 9/11 attacks, but its reach extended through the devastating time in our nation’s history. “Only in America” is an energetic, inspiring tribute to everyday Americans living ordinary lives and the unique promise of hope for the future our country brings to every individual. It’s a declaration that in America, more than any other country, we can “dream as big as we want to.” The song has been used in the political arena in a major way on both sides of the aisle, featured heavily George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign and played after Barack Obama’s acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination in 2008. The tune, co-written by Brooks, was a No. 1 hit for the duo.