If you're not an American, I don't think you need to swallow any pride in your own country and traditions to recognise the immense contributions that the USA has made to the world, which would be a far more sinister place if the US did not exist.
And yet, there are still stormtroopers on the liberal-socialist axis who recognise exceptionalism as they apply the term, say, to North Korea (which has chosen today to pointedly test-fire missiles, Russia or the Palestinian Authority, but who sneer at American exceptionalism.
The Constitution, incorporating the Bill of Rights, is, I believe, the key to the refreshing self-confidence of the American people, and key to understanding that is George Washington's avowal, in his retiring address, of "the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government", which was safeguarded by wiser heads than those governing European revolutionary governments. Other greats to sit in the Whitehouse include, of course, Abraham Lincoln the emancipator, FD Roosevelt, without whose wise governance all of Europe might have been ruled by a Soviet government, Ronald Reagan, who led his people in facing down an evil empire, and of course Bushes pater and Dubbya. Those who see the constitution as an exercise in overoptimism should revisit Carl Schulz's aphorism about our ideals being like the stars that guide us to our destination.
A country's strength is its people, of course; looking at the news, in Wimbledon, Serena Williams has just Wimledon's fourth all-Williams final; Buzz Aldrin has made a stand against climat-change bullies to state that the climate has been changing for billions of years; and Sarah Palin has made a principled and corageous decision to step down from the governorship of Alaska.
So, in a spirit of gratitude and admiration, I'd like to offer my own top ten songs about the USA.
10 - A Dance called America - Runrig
People came to the US for various reasons to augment the native populations. The reasons weren't always positive: this is a song about the Highland clearances that took place as a consequence of Charles Edward Stewart's failed attempt to use a Scots army to install him on the British throne. (At its dénouement on Culloden Moor, he demonstrated his firm belief in leading from behind.) Clan leaders proved themselves eager to bend to English pressures to depopulate the land in order to provide grazing room for sheep. Anyway, here's Runrig with thier take on the event in song, which was a huge hit in Scotland.
9 - America - Neil Diamond
This is the great storyman's telling of the story of what happened when people got there.
8 - Alaska and Me
If anybody ever wrote the Great Alaskan Songbook, it was surely John Denver. You need to crank up the volume for this one.
7 - New York, New York (so good they named it twice) - Gerard Kenney
How could i not mention the Big Apple, where my Mum spent two happy years? I loved this song when it came out in 1978 - it was on the radio all the time, so it's a shame it never got into the charts over here, despite being a hit in the US.
6 - Witch Queen of New Orleans - Redbone
The band's name is a Cajun term for somebody of mixed ancestry, which the founders chose as it described them. It's a cool song.
5 - Hawaii 5-0 - the Ventures
This brings back the memory! The original theme-tune of the iconic series.
4 - California Girls - The Beach Boys
I had to be careful what video I chose - so here's the original and best: the Beach Boys. The symphonic arrangement gives a hint of the promise that was to blossom all too briefly.
3 - Jambalaya - Hank Williams
My Dad's scratched old single of Hank, a gret hero of his, singing this was one of his most precious possessions. I hope you enjoy his immortalisation of the Cajun dish, and the accompanying animation.
2 - Nutbush City Limits - Tina Turner
Here's the first lady of rock giving a turbocharged performance of her song at Wembley...I'm just not sure which of the three towns called Nutbush in the US it's about. This is rock on steroids from the woman who put sex into sexagenarian.
1 - America the beautiful
Here's Ray Charles giving his all. Have a good night.
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!
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