The Most Iconic American Songs In Music History

Looking At America’s most iconic music – American musicians have been making iconic music for many a year. Join us as we check out the most iconic American music ever.

“Party In The USA” by Miley Cyrus

While not everyone may agree that Miley Cyrus is an iconic American artist herself, you can’t deny that whenever you hear the song “Party in the USA”, it conjures up quite a patriotic feeling!

American musicians have been singing about many things for as long as Americans have known how to make music, one of them being American. This can take many different forms, depending on the person making the music; iconic songs written about America and life might reference patriotic sentiments.

They might talk about how hard and dangerous life can be if you’re a minority, or they might talk about the wholesome, though most would agree unattainable, American dream.

America’s history is a diverse one, so there’s no shortage of material for songs about “the land of the free.” Why don’t you join us as we take a look at some iconic American music by some of its most iconic artists?

“Now That The Buffalo’s Gone” by Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie, an indigenous Canadian American singer, and composer, has had many hits in her lifetime; many intrinsically American artists, such as Elvis Presley and Janis Joplin, have covered her songs.

But her song “Now That The Buffalo’s Gone” really speaks to something deep at the heart of the internal struggles that America has been facing for hundreds of years. “Now That the Buffalo’s Gone” isn’t just an obvious lament for a species on a knife-edge, but also a reference to the balancing act that humans have with nature and how delicate the balance between creation and destruction is.

Parallels are drawn between the dignity of post-war Germany and the indignity forced upon Native Americans. It is a classic folk protest song and an essential part of American musical history. Sainte-Marie was the first indigenous person ever to win an Oscar in 1983 for her co-writing contribution to the song “Up Where We Belong” from An Officer and a Gentleman.

“American Pie” by Don McLean

A true American classic for Americans by an American; Don McLean released “American Pie” in 1971, and in 1972, the song shot straight to number one, where it stayed comfortably for four weeks on the Billboard charts.

Not only were Americans thrilled with the tune, but so were Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders; the song topped the charts there as well. Despite its depressing theme (“the day the music died” refers to the plane crash in 1959 that tragically killed Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and The Big Bopper), “American Pie” is loved even to this day.

McLean used “American Pie” as a chance to reflect on the cultural, political, and economic changes of the day; to address the disillusionment of many Americans and their desire for a better way of life. McLean has repeatedly refused to go into any further details about the actual meaning of the lyrics. The song has taken on a life of its own in the hearts of the music lovers who listen to it.

“Living In America” by James Brown

In 1985, James Brown released his single (written by Charles Midnight and Dan Hartman), “Living In America”. No doubt James was sure the song would do well, but no one could have predicted how well. “Living In America” entered the Billboard Top 40 chart in January of 1986 and stayed there for eleven weeks.

Not only that, but it hit number five on the UK Singles charts as well. This song is probably regarded as one of the most patriotic songs in US history, given its association with Rocky Balboa putting “communism” down. Still, James Brown wasn’t just singing an exciting piece of music when he sang this song; he was taking up his space in his country.

“Ragged Old Flag” by Johnny Cash

Rock n roll is considered a quintessentially American sound, and one of the best rock n rollers in the world, Johnny Cash, sang that rock n roll oh so well. Cash was no blind patriot: he was at once a cynical and hopeful man, and it always came through in his music. Dark and honest, his songs said out loud what many other Americans were thinking but couldn’t quite verbalize; that America needed a hand.

In 1971, when Cash wrote the song while in Birmingham, he reflected on the political changes that needed to happen to keep America on a good path. Cash loved America; there’s no denying that, but he didn’t do it in the “American dream” way that many other Americans did at the time. Cash saw both sides of the coin and loved America for its complexities, its’ different people, and the land itself.

American music is multifaceted, reflecting the many different kinds of Americans that call the USA home. The music made by Americans is heard and loved all over the world and often sets the trend for the global music industry, and probably will for many years to come.


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