Best 4th of July rock song is... 4th of July
Interesting article in today's Charleston City Paper:
The best 4th of July rock song L.A. band X's deep cut does the trick by T. Ballard Lesemann
Yep, it's another sunny Independence Day. Folks in the neighborhood are grilling out. Kids are popping off firecrackers. Traffic's heavy to the beach. A nice handful of outdoor Fourth of July concerts going down around town, plus more than a few live bands set to play in the late-night bars and clubs.
I wonder what holiday-themed or patriotic-themed songs some of the local bands might add to their setlists tonight ... rock and country tunes with obviously pro-U.S.A. or holiday-specific titles or lyrics. I'll bet that somewhere in the Lowcountry, some band is attempting a rendition of Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," or a rousing cover of "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood, or maybe even a funky version of the Charlie Daniels Band's "In America." A misinterpretation of Springsteen's "Born in the USA" might pop up, or a lengthy jam off of Tom Petty's "American Girl."
Shooter Jennings (son of Waylon) has a recent songs conveniently titled "4th of July." But so does the still-together, legendary L.A. rock band X (bassist/singer John Doe, singer Exene Cervenka, guitarist Billy Zoom, and drummer D.J. Bonebreak). X's "4th of July" is the rock song I always think of every Independence Day.
Considered a punk band when they hit the scene, X was a great California act during the late '70s/'80s rock underground heyday. I first hear their "4th of July" on a 1987 episode of MTV's great old underground/college radio series IRS Records' Cutting Edge (hosted by Fleshtones singer Peter Zaremba). All-acoustic, the version they did for the cameras sounded more like Bob Dylan or Neil Young than Black Flag or the Minutemen. On the studio version, Doe's lead baritone blends perfectly with Exene's harmony (a third up).
Formed in 1977, X wrote and played fast-paced rock songs steeped in the underbelly themes of urban Southern California: guilt, paranoia, sex, drugs, heartbreak, smog, etc. The first four X albums — Los Angeles, Wild Gift, Under the Big Black Sun, and More Fun in the New World — incorporated bits of country, rockabilly, and power-pop into the mix. "4th of July," penned by Blasters guitarist Dave Alvin, was featured on 1987's See How We Are. "I hope hear cover of it tonight; I'll buy the band a round of domestics if I do!)
For cool footage and audio on X, rent a copy of director Penelope Spheeris' 1981 rockumentary of the L.A. punk scene, The Decline of Western Civilization. For a sample of Doe and Exene's harmony, click the audio feature to the right.