"Fourth of July" (a Song)

This past Thursday night I got the idea to write a song called "Fourth of July" that would reflect the difficult time we find ourselves in and what this says about the United States. I wrote a couple of verses and had an idea for the melody but wasn't sure about it and decided to let it go for a while. The next day I cleaned the apartment and did a few other things before recording a couple of other melody ideas, which varied from slow/bluesy (I imagined it sung a cappella) to rock. I thought I'd hit on a good one with an urgency about it, but it seemed familiar. Shazam couldn't figure it out, but on the morning of the Fourth it came to me—it was very similar to the bridge in Taylor Swift's "Lover" (I do admire that bridge, though more for its clever lyrics)! So I went back to the first melody and wondered why I had abandoned it in the first place.

Writing the lyrics (see below), I read part of the Constitution; the lyrics to "America the Beautiful"; the poem it was based on, inspired by the view from Pikes Peak, by Katharine Lee Bates; the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner"; a chart showing how many Founding Fathers had slaves (a lot); and a few odds and ends (e.g., the website Quora as to whether it might be offensive to some to refer to our "sisters and brothers"—yes, it might).

When I finished during the afternoon of the Fourth, I recorded it on my phone, reading the fresh lyrics as I sang since I hadn't yet memorized them. I did this several times—needing to turn up the mic volume after one take, turn it up more after the second, etc. My husband gamely endured the heat every time I turned off the AC (too noisy). I love the near perfection of a studio recording, but this one will do and perhaps is appropriate for an at times gritty message.


                                                                                                Fourth of July


                                                                                           The Fourth of July 

                                                                                           How does this one go by 

                                                                                           Without a hard meditation 

                                                                                           On a ripped apart nation 

                                                                                           On the Fourth of July 


                                                                                           There’s a longing that sears 

                                                                                           From across all the years 

                                                                                           From all the murder and torture 

                                                                                           Sins at the border 

                                                                                           On the fourth of July 


                                                                                           Maybe on the fifth

                                                                                           The seventh or the eighth 

                                                                                           We can turn toward love 

                                                                                           Turn away from hate

                                                                                           Maybe if we learn 

                                                                                           And act on what we know 

                                                                                           This fourth of July 

                                                                                           Will be a stepping stone


                                                                                           The Fourth of July 

                                                                                           And the people cry 

                                                                                           For equality 

                                                                                           And a true liberty 

                                                                                           On the Fourth of July 


                                                                                           Don’t you know from sea 

                                                                                           To polluted sea 

                                                                                           People are marching 

                                                                                           Against bigotry 

                                                                                           Don’t you know the world 

                                                                                           Is just in wait 

                                                                                           For us to cross over 

                                                                                           Find our true grace 


                                                                                           The Fourth of July 

                                                                                           And the people ask why 

                                                                                           We can’t write another story 

                                                                                           Find elusive glory 

                                                                                           On the Fourth of July 


                                                                                           What does it mean to be great 

                                                                                           It’s not a question of fate 

                                                                                           A more perfect union 

                                                                                           Means a state of communion 

                                                                                           On the Fourth of July


1 comment

  • Linda Barni Hausman
    Linda Barni Hausman St. Louis
    The words are enlightening. Haven't heard tune yet.

    The words are enlightening. Haven't heard tune yet.

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