10 Prime Hits: Fourth of July

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10 Prime Hits: Fourth of July

Published on July 03, 2012 by CMT News

Jason Aldean
Country stars have long saluted our country in their own way, from Alan Jackson’s
somber reflections after 9/11 to the Zac Brown Band’s hearty endorsement
of fried chicken, family and our armed forces. America, here are 10 country songs inspired by you.

Jason
Aldean
, “Fly Over States”

When I was a teenager,
I thought it would be incredibly exciting to move to New York City or Los Angeles. Coming from Alabama, those two cities seemed
like another world to me. I never ventured very far from home though — and thankfully so. The older I get, the more appreciative
I become about where I’m from. Aldean’s “Fly Over States” hits home for me because he sings of his appreciation for the people
and the land between the coasts. During my youth, I took the scenery, residents and overall experience of growing up outside
of a huge city for granted. I realize now how fortunate I was to be raised in a close-knit community surrounded by hardworking
people who truly want the best for each other. — Stephanie Pendergrass

Dierks
Bentley
, “Home”

Dierks Bentley doesn’t make a lot of noise
and is very understated. Still, his career shows a growing body of songs with an evolving maturity. Written by Bentley, Brett
Beavers and Dan Wilson, “Home” is a tasteful, soft-spoken yet proud song of patriotism. He sings: “West, on a plane bound
west/I see her stretching out below/Land, blessed motherland/The place where I was born.” A No. 1 hit earlier this year, “Home”
strikes me as a full-bore Bentley sentiment and very emblematic of his view of his life and his work. — Chet Flippo

Brooks Dunn, “Only
in America”

Released a few months prior to 9/11, “Only in America” became an anthem at Brooks Dunn’s concerts
following the attack on the World Trade Center. Musical hooks abound as the lyrics provide a snapshot of people living their
daily lives. Although the song celebrates the “promise of the promised land,” it’s not about waving flags. With lines about
one kid potentially ending up in prison while another becomes president, the message subtly suggests that a person’s ability
to fulfill the American dream generally comes down to personal choices and attitudes. That alone is something worth celebrating.
– Calvin Gilbert

Alan Jackson, “Where
Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)”

It is impossible to overestimate the emotional impact of this song on
the American psyche. In the wake of the devastation of 9/11, there remained a general hole in the center of many people’s
hearts. Alan Jackson filled that vacuum with this simple, yet eloquent song. Like most listeners across the country, I first
heard “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” when he performed it live at the CMA Awards on Nov. 7, 2001. I was
at the Grand Ole Opry House that night and still recall the enormous emotional upswelling in the house. I was on my feet and
crying, and so was everyone around me. I cannot recall a single instance of a song having the instant healing effect that
“Where Were You” had. And continues to have. — Chet Flippo

Toby Keith,
“Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)”

Toby Keith’s no-holds-barred tune, released following the
attacks of 9/11, was labeled by the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines as “ignorant,”
and a feud between the two ensued. Well, if loving this song makes me ignorant, that’s quite all right with me. No matter
if it ruffled a few feathers, there’s no denying Keith’s patriotism when the video features footage from his USO tours. Personally,
I get chills every time I see the soldiers cheering so enthusiastically for him and the song’s message. It’s a powerful reminder
of the troops’ constant sacrifices and ultimate goal, along with the mindset of many Americans following that tragic day.
– Stephanie Pendergrass

Lady Antebellum, “American
Honey”

“She grew up good/She grew up slow/Like American honey.” Every time I hear this song, I think about hearing
the lyrics coming out of my 5-year-old cousin’s little mouth, so sweet and innocent. I think in that moment, she was the perfect
representation of “American Honey.” One thing I remember well about my own childhood is running around barefoot in the yard
chasing lightning bugs at dusk on summer days — when the air was still warm, but the grass was cool under my feet and I didn’t
have a care in the world. At some point, you’re forced to grow up and lose that, but this song takes you back there. — Lacey
Spears

Tim McGraw, “If
You’re Reading This”

“Looks like I only got a one-way ticket over here.” That’s all Tim McGraw has to sing to tell
you exactly what this song is about: a soldier laying down his gun, hanging up his boots and saying goodbye to his family
in a letter he wrote before he died. It makes me sad to my very core, and at the same time, so overjoyed to be an American.
That was especially true when he debuted the song on the ACM Awards in 2007 with families of fallen soldiers onstage with
him. I cried. The families cried. I think McGraw even cried. It was a memorable five minutes for America and country music.
– Alison Bonaguro

Brad Paisley, “American
Saturday Night”

One thing that rarely comes up in songs dedicated to the good ol’ U.S.A. is the idea that many
things that make us uniquely American actually came from somewhere else. That’s what I like about Brad Paisley’s “American
Saturday Night.” Brazilian boots and a German car may not be part of the average American’s everyday experience, but how about
French kisses and pizza pies? Even horses, cattle, beer and country music itself owe their existence here to other parts of
the world. My favorite line in the bouncy tune is a reminder that no matter where an idea started, Americans take pride in
making it our own. “When my great, great, great granddaddy stepped off of that ship/I bet he never ever dreamed we’d have
all this.” — Chris Parton

Carrie Underwood, “All-American
Girl”

Only in America, right? That’s what I think whenever I hear Carrie Underwood’s 2007 hit song, “All-American
Girl.” When I hear her singing about the men she has wrapped around her finger (first her dad, then her high school boyfriend),
my mind goes to the video. The one where Underwood is a painter, a firefighter, an OB/GYN, a chef, a swimmer, a beauty queen,
a nurse, a cowgirl, a waitress, a cop, a photographer, a flight attendant and more. I always loved that video because it shows
in a very literal way all the things a beautiful, wonderful, perfect girl can be. It had kind of a “we-run-the-world” message
before BeyoncĂ© started singing hers. And it also gives “America the Beautiful” a whole new meaning. — Alison Bonaguro

Zac Brown Band, “Chicken
Fried”

Good eats, first-rate friends, a cranked-up radio and a salute to our soldiers? Sounds like a recipe for
country music success. The Zac Brown Band cooked up that winning combination with their chart-topping debut single, “Chicken
Fried.” Their signature dish also calls for one part beer, mixed with Friday nights, Mama’s love and just-right-fittin’ jeans.
Add a heaping helping of patriotic pride for the stars and stripes, God and our American troops. Lastly, drop a dollop of
buoyant beats and a spoonful of roll-off-the-tongue rhymes — and voila! What country fan doesn’t enjoy this deep-fried favorite?
– Whitney Self

Check out
a video playlist of patriotic songs.

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