Grilling out, chilling out, nursing a cold one with your family and friends in a backyard or maybe relaxing at the pool or a lake, soaking up the sun and the moment. Heck, if that ain't American, what is? What could be better?
Well, maybe a good country for the soundtrack. And I mean all kinds of country.
If there was ever a genre of music to paint a perfect portrait of what it means to feel that patriotic pride, it might just be country music. It's not the only one by any means -- and you don't have to be a country fan to be a true blue American patriot -- but we country fans would certainly love to invite you to our party so you can experience the lyrical and musical pictures and stories. Cherishing the good times and even the hard times and the sorrowful times, good music helps your heart swell with American splendor.
So here's a list of tunes -- new, classic, familiar, maybe brand new to you -- to get your Fourth of July party started. It's not intended to be a list of the all-time greatest patriotic songs, but rather a collection of music to keep things rocking as you enjoy a day off from your daily grind and reflect on what it means for us to live free in this beautiful, great nation we call home.
1. "Living in the Promiseland," Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson for president. That's all.
2. "XXX's and OOO's (An American Girl)," Trisha Yearwood
The hit from 1994 gives a perfect glimpse into the daily life of a gal simply hustling to live out her American dream.
3. "American Kids," Kenny Chesney
No one delivers the story of a generation like Chesney. When it comes to nostalgia, he's the Springsteen of country music.
4. "Born Country," Alabama
Perhaps one of the greatest anthems to capture the intertwining love of country music and country from one of the greatest country bands of all time.
5. "All-American Girl," Carrie Underwood
Look up the phrase "all-American girl" in the dictionary, and you'll see Carrie Underwood's face. At least you should.
6. "Good Ole American Way," Justin Moore
If authenticity is the core of country music and country music is the core of America, then let Moore tell America what it means to be country.
7. "I Won't Back Down," Johnny Cash
The incomparable "Man in Black" puts his spin on the Tom Petty classic in a tear-inducing performance that will have you crying "Yes, united we stand."
8. "All American Middle Class White Boy," Thomas Rhett
Don't let the Snoop Dogg on his iPod throw you. Rhett is here to prove "country" isn't always about the finer details. It's a state of mind open to all.
9. "American Pie," Don McLean
The only thing more American than apple pie is "American Pie." A classic. A must-include.
10. "American Honey," Lady Antebellum
Idyllic harmonies, idyllic dreaming of days gone by. Everything about Lady A's tune is truly golden.
11. "American Saturday Night," Brad Paisley
Count on cheeky Paisley to show you exactly why we Americans are proverbially always workin' for the weekend.
12. "KMAG YOYO," Hayes Carll
The stone-cold country, yet indelibly left-of-mainstream, leanings of Carll always head straight for the soul or straight for the jugular. With this politically-charged, rocking portrait that shows the darker side of the sacrifices some have made in the name of freedom, he hits both.
13. "Travelin' Thru," Dolly Parton
If Willie Nelson is president, can Parton be vice president?
14. "Everyday America," Sugarland
Like the duo says, "Everybody's dreamin' big. Everybody's just gettin' by." But it's a beautiful thing and a "great big life."
15. "We Shall Be Free," Garth Brooks
Did you think I was going to leave this one out?
16. "Founding Fathers," Will Hoge
Find me an artist that can simultaneously speak his mind as pointedly, poignantly and passionately as Hoge, and I will buy you a kiddie pool for your party this weekend.
17. "American Heart," Faith Hill
Because America wouldn't be America without a little Faith.
18. "Fortunate Son," Todd Snider
The alt-country, folk-rock favorite breathes haunting new life into Creedence Clearwater Revival's iconic hit with this thought-provoking retelling.
19. "America," Waylon Jennings
I miss Waylon Jennings, and this commentary still rings true three decades later.
20. "American Trilogy," Elvis Presley
Go ahead and grab some tissues for this one. And pass a few over to me if you don't mind. Mickey Newbury's original version of the three songs is an undisputed classic, too.