GAC's Top 20 Patriotic Country Songs

By David Scarlett

Continued from page 1…

Brooks & Dunn photo courtesy of Arista Nashville

"Only in America" (2001) written by Kix Brooks, Don Cook, and Ronnie Rogers, performed by Brooks & Dunn

This song was written before 9/11 and, like "American Child" by Phil Vassar, it is all about celebrating the freedom and opportunity to be found in America where anything is possible?from becoming president to going to prison. But after the attacks in September 2001, things changed. "In times like these, songs take on special meaning," declared Kix a couple weeks after the attacks. "Songs like these really hit home right now. Everybody is looking for a flag to wave."

"American Child" (2002) by Phil Vassar and Craig Wiseman, performed by Phil Vassar

The video for this song sums it up very nicely as Phil looks at his own young daughter with immense gratitude that she, too, was born an American child. This very well-crafted tune is patriotic in a way that honors the sacifice of a grandfather killed in combat while also gently counting the blessings provided to Phil, his own child and millions of others in a country where dreams can grow wild born inside an American child. Very powerful and moving.

"The Fightin' Side of Me" (1970) written and performed by Merle Haggard

While Merle doesn't mince words when he says he feels that people in positions of leadership are making mistakes, he makes it clear in this tune from the Vietnam era that he doesn't mind people standing up for things they believe in, but running down the country is a different thing entirely. There were then, and still are today, plenty of folks who think Merle got it right when he said a lot of people fought and died to give us the American way of life. We can disagree about specifics without trashing the country. Amen, Merle.

"America" (1984) written by Sammy Johns and performed by Waylon Jennings

This was a song Waylon carried with him for years and rediscovered after the 1984 Olympics inspired him to write a patriotic song and he found himself dissatisfied with his attempts. After another listen, he knew "America" captured what he'd been trying to say. "It wasn't just flag waving," wrote Waylon in his autobiography. "It was talking about the ideals we had fought for and the blunders committed in their name and the honor that lay behind our national character." Unlike some patriotic songs, this one admits that America isn't perfect, but professes a tender love for what's right about the country, what's unique in all of history and what's worth preserving.

"In America" (1980 and re-released in 2001) written by Charlie Daniels, John Thomas Crain Jr., Joel Di Gregorio, Fred Laroy Edwards, Charles Fred Hayward, and James Marshall and recorded by Charlie Daniels

Never one to tiptoe around a subject he's passionate about, Charlie proclaims his love of America to anyone within shouting distance. In this foot-stomping up-tempo number, he admits that every now and then Americans will criticize each other, but when it comes to being attacked by someone from elsewhere, Americans will rally together.

"Once you get past the superficial part of the people of this country," he proclaims, "we all have one thing in common. We are Americans and damn proud of it, and when you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us. God Bless America." With the song's re-release following the 9/11 attacks, a whole new generation of listeners heard and embraced Charlie's sentiments.