Whether played by a marching band, an orchestra, or a rock group, there are patriotic tunes that everyone in America finds familiar, exciting and uplifting. But how much do you know about how these songs were created? And what do you know about people who wrote them?
There are some surprising facts behind all of this glorious music.
So, fire up barbecue grill, look up at fireworks, and strike up band as we reveal secrets behind most influential nationalistic musical moments of all time.
"Star Spangled Banner," Francis Scott Key, 1814. Schoolchildren in America all learn how Key watched British bombardment of Fort McHenry during War of 1812 and so admired courage of beleaguered American forces that he wrote four stanzas of "The Star Spangled Banner" (only first is usually performed). Key based melody on an English drinking song called "To Anacreon in Heaven." The song has only been national anthem since 1931, and there was a strong movement to replace it with one of other songs on this list.
"America (My Country 'Tis of Thee)," Samuel F. Smith, 1832. The music was composed in 1700s, sometimes attributed to Henry Cary. First popular in Great Britain as "God Save King (Queen)," song became bi-continental in 1832. Modern audiences have been greatly moved by R&B version by Ray Charles, a truly wonderful blending of emotion with what musicians call "the groove."
"Rally 'Round Flag," George F. Root, 1862. Written for Union army and its supporters during Civil War, song was hugely popular in North. This didn't prevent Confederate troops from writing their own lyrics and singing song throughout South.
"When Johnny Comes Marching Home," Louis Lambert, c. 1863. Lambert was a pseudonym for Union Army Bandmaster Patrick S. Gilmore. His lyrics, set to an old Irish folk song, were popular through whole Reconstruction Era (1865-1896). It appears in an extended instrumental version on soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick's film "Dr. Strangelove."
"Battle Hymn of Republic," Julia W. Howe, 1861. Howe is another lyricist who succeeded by utilizing a pre-existing piece of music, in this case a camp meeting tune of 19th century (which also became "John Brown's Body"). The profound power of words combined with compelling melody cannot be denied, and it was sung at funerals of Winston Churchill, Robert Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan.
"Overture: 1812," Petr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, 1880. Patriotic music doesn’t always revolve around July 4th celebration, or even refer to USA. Tchaikovsky got Russian hearts a-pounding with his "1812 Overture in E Flat Major Op. 49," written to celebrate 70th anniversary of his country's victory battle during Napoleonic Wars.
"Semper Fidelis," John Philip Sousa, 1889. Popular ever since it was first performed, effective and spirited tune takes its name from U.S. Marine Corps motto meaning "always faithful" and is dedicated to Marines.