13 Patriotic Songs You’ll Never Be Able To Listen To The Same Way Again

Politicians: It’s time to stop playing “Born in the U.S.A.” at your rallies.

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1. “God Bless America” was written by an immigrant from Siberia.

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Composer and lyricist Irving Berlin immigrated to the U.S. from Siberia when he was 5 years old. In 1940, he donated all the royalties from the song to a fund for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts — and in one year, the Scouts can make $200,000 or more from the song’s royalties.

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2. “This Land Is Your Land” was originally written as a sarcastic response to “God Bless America.”


Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land Is Your Land” as a big F-you to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” which was very popular at the time. Guthrie thought the original wasn’t very accurate, and his original lyrics included a verse about property ownership.

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3. The 1812 Overture, which is commonly played at 4th of July celebrations, is actually about Russia.

It was written by Tchaikovsky to commemorate Russia’s defeat of Napoleon.

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4. And Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” is about a Vietnam War vet who returns home, only to feel abandoned by his own country.

The song is about a man who feels like “he has nothing left to tie him into society anymore. He’s isolated from his family […] to the point where nothing makes sense,” Springsteen has said.

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5. “You’re a Grand Old Flag” was a basically a pop hit. It sold over a million copies of sheet music.

The song was written by George Cahan for the musical George Washington Jr., which debuted in 1906.

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6. The composer of “America the Beautiful” never got to hear his melody paired with the lyrics.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons


Katharine Lee Bates wrote the lyrics originally as a poem, in 1893 while on a trip to Colorado. Samuel A. Ward, a church organist, composed the melody but died one year before it was joined with Bates’ lyrics in 1904.

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7. Don McLean’s “American Pie” is about the tragic death of Buddy Holly.

Wikimedia Commons

United Artists


“The day music died” = the day Buddy Holly died in a plane crash.

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8. And Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” is actually about domestic abuse.


The controversial 1994 song is about the stories of two women: the daughter of an alcoholic, abusive father, and her mother, who ends up burning their family house down.

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9. The melody of the “Star-Spangled Banner” is from an old English drinking song.

Called “To Anacreon in Heaven,” the original was composed around 1775 for the Anacreontic Society of London, an 18th-century gentlemen’s club of amateur musicians.

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10. “Kids in America” was written by a team of Brits.

British singer Kim Wilde wrote the song with her father and brother.

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11. And “Yankee Doodle” was originally sung by the British military during the Revolutionary War to mock Americans.

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12. Whitney Houston’s amazing Super Bowl performance of the “Star-Spangled Banner” was actually lip-synched.

George Rose / Getty

She was still singing along, but the version everyone heard was pre-recorded.

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13. Forty-six of the fifty states prefer Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” over any other patriotic song on the 4th of July.

According to Spotify data.

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Ain’t no 4th of July party like a Miley party, y’all.

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