Since it’s Independence Day, I decided to write down some of my favorite tracks for a July 4th playlist.
Let’s start with Alyssa Graham, who does a lovely version of Paul Simon’s classic, “America.” We turn to Dale Warland‘s beautiful choir in a collection of Americana classics. Rubén Blades is next with his moving composition, “Buscando America” (“Searching for America”). The live version has him speaking inclusively about the fact that whether we come from North, Central, or South America, that we are ALL Americans. That sounds pretty timely and good to me.
Gary McFarland‘s album, America the Beautiful, An Account of its Disappearance, from the late 1960’s came about at the beginning of the environmental movement, and its songs address that issue early on. The late New Orleans maestro Allen Toussaint’s new album, American Tunes, has received more accolades that I can think of. He is one of New Orleans’ musical godfathers.
I had to photograph my copy of the late Brenda Fassie’s group Joy’s version of the Jon Anderson/Vangelis classic, “State of Independence.” This 12″ single was never released commercially, which is a crying shame. Fassie was a neice of Nelson Mandela’s, and she died way too early. I used to enjoy featuring this on air, and fortunately there’s a copy in the KCRW African vinyl library, should you choose to call in and make a request.
The last two songs are James Brown’s “Living in America” originally from his LP Gravity but now out on CD. Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden’s “Missouri Sky” is perfect for July 4th. Both artists came from the Ozarks near Springfield, MO, the heartland of Americana. They are totally in sync and play with heart and soul throughout.
Finally, I love the Caetano Veloso song, “Soy Loco Por Ti, America.” On Celia Cruz’s album Duets, she sings the song with the author. Caetano’s Tropicalia colleague Gilberto Gil also did a nice version.