American flag

American flag (Photo by Charles "Duck" Unitas)

As Americans living in the land of the free and the home of the brave, music helps us transcend cultural boundaries. In a way, it is a universal language that ignites our passions, breaks down barriers, and brings us back to our roots. From soulful anthems of freedom to heartfelt lyrics that capture the essence of being an American, the best songs about America bring us closer together through our struggles, dreams, and tribulations. 

For nearly 250 years, American songs have shaped our culture, influenced progress, and helped contribute to the American experience. From encouraging unity as a nation to forging deep emotional connections, “listening to music can lower stress and improve mood during particularly tough times” according to findings in a new study. Perhaps most interesting is how “individuals reporting higher levels of chronic stress experienced the most benefit associated with music listening.”

Not only can listening to music alleviate stress, but a recent study also found that “adding music to math equations leads to better scores for kids” by helping to alleviate anxieties and making math more enjoyable. Additionally, a controlled study was done where it was found “the use of music, whether as stand-alone lessons or integrated into math classes, led to a more significant improvement in math performance over time.”

Having the ability to connect people across time and space, the best songs about America encapsulate the heart and soul of the American spirit. From North to South, East to West, we’ve put together the best American songs as voted by popularity, meaning, and impact. Don’t happen to see your favorite song on the list? Let us know by dropping a comment below! 


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The List: Best Songs About America, According to Experts

1. “America the Beautiful” by Ray Charles   

Dubbed the “loveliest of all American anthems” by Time Out, “America the Beautiful” by Ray Charles is a rendition that has become synonymous with the iconic song originally composed by Katherine Bates and Samual Ward. In fact, President Barack Obama called it, ‘the most patriotic piece of music ever performed” which is among one of the many reasons why this song holds a special place in the hearts of many Americans.

“We have Katharine Lee Bates to thank for this gorgeous song,” says Yahoo Money. Spanning across genres and generations, “America the Beautiful” by Ray Charles helps capture the rich history, beautiful landscapes, and resiliency of the American spirit. Despite Katherine’s poem “America” being composed in 1895, America “continued to resonate deeply throughout the century that followed.”

This rendition of “America the Beautiful” has had a lasting impact on popular culture and what it means for songs to be patriotic for Americans. As expressed by Funny Jokes Today, “with just about everything Charles played or sang, he delivered a passionate, soulful performance that all Americans can appreciate.”

2. “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood 

As a timeless anthem, “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood can bring tears to your eyes and goosebumps to your skin. As stated by Yahoo Money, “You can’t have a patriotic playlist without ‘God Bless the U.S.A.’ With Lee’s rich voice delivering powerful lyrics that help remind us of the countless sacrifices of many, this song instills pride and love in being American among all those who listen.”

As explained in Funny Jokes Today, God Bless the U.S.A. was “written in 1983 as a patriotic tribute.” While the song wasn’t much of a hit at the start, it ended up rallying to become the signature song of the Greenwoods. Then after the “US went to war with Iraq, it became popular again after many conservative politicians, including George Bush, used it during their campaigns.” 

Giving credit to our brave soldiers, Greenwood first wrote “this song to unite Americans,” says A-Z Animals. Helping evoke a deep sense of pride, this American classic transcends societal and political differences and has grown into “one of the most beloved songs about the United States.” It has been performed at countless patriotic events and will continue to inspire future generations of Americans to cherish and honor their nation. 

3. “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie

Funny Jokes Today writes, “There is no doubt that Guthrie’s classic is one of the greatest folk songs ever written.” Resonating with people across all walks of life, this song has transcended generations of Americans and continues to express inclusivity, unity, and shared opportunity. Additionally, by emphasizing the lyrics “this land was made for you and me,” Woody challenges exclusive ownership in exchange for equal opportunity.

Having grown into an enduring anthem of social change and equal rights protest, “This Land Is Your Land” is “by far the most famous and meaningful” song of Guthrie, says Yahoo Money. Now deeply ingrained in American culture, this song is often taught in schools and is an all-time Fourth of July favorite. 

First “written as a response to and critique of God Bless America by Irving Berlin,” “This Land is Your Land” was written in 1940 but wasn’t released until 1945, reports A-Z Animals. As explained, the first few verses present a vision of how Woody Guthrie envisions America, from sparkling gold sands to the majestic redwood forests, then ending with the unifying lyrics that we all know and bring us all together, “this land was made for you and me.” 

4. “American Pie” by Don McLean 

As described by A-Z Animals, “American Pie is part epic poem, part ode to American culture, and part classic American folk song.” Released in 1971, “American Pie” encapsulates the spirit of a generation that aimed to change the social, political, and cultural landscape and goes on to cryptically mention “many pop culture references from the 1960s, like the rise of Bob Dylan, the first moon landings, and a 1959 plane crash that killed three famous musicians.” Despite being over eight minutes long, this song grew into a monumental hit and helps depict American life.

Rated as one of the best American songs, Yahoo Money states that McLean’s hit has had a lasting impact beyond the music scene and has been “in innumerable movies and tv shows.” Inviting listeners to ponder the present state of society with a sense of reflection and nostalgia, “American Pie” will continue to leave a lasting legacy and be remembered by many as “the day that music died.”

“With an overall length of about eight minutes and fifteen seconds, McLean’s masterpiece is similar in quality to a motion picture,” jokes Funny Jokes Today. Neither patriotic nor controversial, this popular song has been written “about the loss of American innocence” and “it just seems to sum up life in America, the highs and lows alike.” As one of the more thought-provoking American songs, “American Pie” will continue to resonate across eras. 

5. “Only in America” by Brooks & Dunn

Released in June of 2001, “Only in America” “discusses various scenes of common Americans living their lives with their hopes and dreams,” mentions A-Z Animals. Sharing the notion that “everyone has opportunities to succeed in The United States,” this song became “even more popular after 9/11.” From uplifting listeners to inspiring positive action, this song embodies what it means to be an American.

As an anthem of the American dream, “Only in America” reminds us that dreams can and do come true for those that are willing and determined to work hard. As stated by Yahoo Money, “Only in America” is “where we dream as big as we want to.” With “big country lyrics featuring a heartwarming chorus,” “Only in America” reminds us of the importance of resiliency when pursuing our dreams.

“Less than three months before the terrorist attack on New York City on September 11, 2001, Brooks & Dunn recorded and released the patriotic ‘Only in America,'” adds Funny Jokes Today. Resonating across many Americans, this song “quickly grew as an unofficial anthem of healing, not only for the city but for the whole country.” Since then, this song has been used in political campaigns, for celebrating national holidays, and serves as a reminder of the unique opportunities that are available to each of us.

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About Tim Lanoue

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  1. Rod says:

    Left out Mo Bandy, Americana

  2. Doug Speights says:

    American Trilogy by Elvis

  3. Marilyn Wagner says:

    Neil diamonds coming to America