"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 medition
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

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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