So this past week we had that birthday celebration again, July 4th (actually voted by Continental Congress on July 2nd, 1776, and signed August 2nd). Oh well.
In this birthday week we can ask ourselves and the world speaks here at Brian Wilson dot calm as well, what is this American Dream? All of my relatives who came here and most all of us did in some way, they had it in their back-pocket – the dream.
Musically there is much to chose from here but we'll iso n but four songs and reasons.
Let’s begin with some talk about pie, and in this case American Pie by Don McLean. Most often associated with “the day the music died” in a cornfield in Morehead, Minnesota, is it really abut that?
“American Pie” has been chosen for prestigious honors and awards that have only been given to a select number of songs. The RIAA and the National Endowment for the Arts named “American Pie” as the #5 song on their list of Songs of the Century. The song is also in the Grammy Hall of Fame. And in March of this year (2017), the Library of Congress added “American Pie” to its National Recording Registry, as a musical work that is culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.
This ^ from Songwriter Universe:
Next we go north of the American border to the Canadian Provinces and more specifically from the wheatfield soul region of Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman and the Guess Who. Here’s an interesting explanation of how the song came to be by Randy:
Burton Cummings’ story is different:
The song does receive another life with Lenny Kravitz.
The original comes in during the ant-war time period (post Woodstock but not yet Kent State). Who is this American Woman? Is she us?
When American Woman hit record stores, however, it was the title track that created the biggest stir. Structured around a heavy guitar riff worked up by Bachman during a concert jam, and featuring a menacing vocal from Cummings, the song homed in on what the band viewed as the social and political havoc wreaked by the Nixon administration.
“A lot of people thought ‘American Woman’ was addressing the woman on the street,” explains Bachman, “but it wasn’t at all. The band had witnessed all the desolation going on in America, where there were hardly any young men in any of the towns we went to. They had all been drafted. We would see 18-year-old guys at the airports, with their buzz cuts and their uniforms, with their fathers telling them how proud they were, and their mothers and sisters in tears. It was heartbreaking. So instead of singing ‘Uncle Sam, stay away from me,’ or ‘Richard Nixon, stay away from me,’ it was ‘American woman.’ RCA actually released a piece of promotion that showed a New York alley filled with litter, and at the back of the alley was the Statue of Liberty, holding up the torch. Fortunately, by the time radio and the government understood that the song was an anti-war song, it had already reached #1,” which it did on May 9, 1970.
So we have a band known affectionately now as America’s Band and we know them well here. Every summer – the sounds seem to come back as this is what was first created by The Beach Boys – summertime surf music – for the rest of us built usually on luscious harmonies. So you can have your own Endless Summer listening to the their early music. In the height of all of this comes an album track that would surface even later in an important role: All Summer Long
Beach Boys’ July 1964 album "All Summer Long," which featured a song by that name as its 2nd track. Another 1964 song by the Beach Boys that has outstanding sound and production values is “All Summer Long” written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love. However, this song was not released as a single in 1964. It was first heard on the Beach Boys’ July 1964 album by that same name, All Summer Long, their sixth studio album. The song “All Summer Long” was the second track on the album.
In the U.K., the song was later released as a single in February 1965, but did not become a top hit there. Even in the U.S., apart from being on the album, the song did not become that well known, making it perhaps one of the more neglected Beach Boys’ songs of that era, yet still among their best work. One noteworthy fan of the song is film-maker George Lucas, who gave it some notice when he used it as background music over the end credits of his 1973 film, American Graffiti, his ode to the happy days of early 1960s’ rock ‘n roll.
In a review of this song for AllMusic.com, Donald A. Guarisco found it to be one of the classic examples of “sunshine pop” and of Brian Wilson helping to create the California Myth — “an idyllic dream world of sun, surf, and fun that created a potent mental escape hatch for many listeners.” The lyrics of “All Summer Long” tell a story of a happy summer of sharing between a guy and his girl. Yet the lyrics seem almost secondary to the song’s smooth musical power, its upbeat tone, and a kind of “take-you-away” easy listening. The harmonies are outstanding, and the buoyant instrumentation includes piano and some perfectly positioned xylophone. The All Summer Long album hit No. 4 on the Billboard charts and had a 49-week stay there. This also occurred during the peak of the “British invasion” of U.S. pop music.
Is this fitting for “America’s Band”? George Lucas sure understood.
And finally we have the anthem songs and here we go to Ray Charles himself. He lays into/into the song a soulful feeling that gets you feeling it. The video spells it all out but listen to Ray (wait a minute).
Simply, read this:
C & P Purposes
American Pie - Don McLean
American Woman - The Guess Who
All Summer Long - The Beach Boys
America the Beautiful - Ray Charles