America’s history is full of storied anthems and artists inspired to pay tribute to the land they love to call home.
From early hits like ‘God Bless the USA’ and classic military marches to modern country singles like ‘American Soldier,’ check out this uplifting list spanning multiple genres featuring the best patriotic songs from the past to the present.
America the Beautiful – Ray Charles
R&B icon Ray Charles gives a soulful performance of one of the United States’ most enduring anthems, ‘America the Beautiful.’ The song originated as a poem by Katharine Lee Bates and was put to music by organist Samuel Ward. Their collaborative effort was first released in 1910.
Related: Find this song on our list of top songs about America.
Home – Dierks Bentley
Arizona native Dierks Bentley penned this patriotic country song with ’90s band leader Dan Wilson of Semi-Sonic. The Grand Canyon State chose ‘Home’ as one of its official state songs in 2011 at its “centennial celebration.” The song pays tribute to Americans’ love of freedom.
Related: Check out these songs about being homesick.
Born in the U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen
Even though rock and roll legend Bruce Springsteen’s song ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ has an empowering vibe, its lyrics poetically point to a generation of people the songwriter belongs to who were deeply frustrated over America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The album featuring the hit, also titled Born in the U.S.A., is one of the highest-selling CDs of all time, topping over 18 million copies.
Related: Listen to our playlist of soldier songs.
American Heart – Faith Hill
Giving the nod to the storied “American dream” engrained in those living in the US, Faith Hill’s ‘American Heart’ tells a story of tribulations and triumph from a woman’s perspective. As she experiences ups and downs, Hill passionately sings the hook, “You can’t break an American heart.”
America, My Country ‘Tis of Thee – United States Army Field Band
Before the US made the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ their official anthem, ‘America, My Country ‘Tis of Thee’ was the unofficial song of the country. On their 2009 album Let Freedom Ring, the United States Army Field Band performs this classic beautifully. The band’s mission is to inspire American greatness via the country’s historical songs.
Living in America – James Brown
Appearing in the infamous Rocky 4 installment of the Sylvester Stallone boxer series (this is the one where he fights the Russian, Drago), funk master James Brown was commissioned by Stallone to write the song for the film. The movie’s soundtrack was full of modern, patriotic-themed tunes like ‘Living in America,’ which promoted unity, western culture, and the artistic theme of Rocky’s timeless, indomitable will.
Related: Travel outside America with the best songs about different countries.
Living in the Promiseland – Willie Nelson
“Give us your tired and weak, and we will make them strong.” Country crooner Willie Nelson draws on some of the United States’ historic one-liners for his lyrics in ‘Living in the Promiseland.’ He reflects on what freedom means by highlighting the country as a “safe haven” for people immigrating from war-torn areas.
Related: Celebrate your freedom with these songs about liberation.
God Bless America – Celine Dion
Canadian pop singer Celine Dion performed a special cover of ‘God Bless America’ during a tribute show in September of 2001 dedicated to the victims of the 9/11 tragedy in New York. Her rendition was included on a themed album as well released by Sony Records, with sales going towards families of the victims. One of America’s most beloved anthems, ‘God Bless America’ was originally written by famed songwriter Irving Berlin.
Only in America – Brooks & Dunn
Appearing on their Steers & Stripes album, country duo Brooks & Dunn released their inspirational hit ‘Only in America’ after a day spent in the woods four-wheeling and reflecting on how lucky they are to live in the United States. The powerful tune resonated with the nation, which was still reeling from 9/11 when the single was released in 2001.
Related: Feeling lucky? Here are the best songs about being lucky.
Ragged Old Flag – Johnny Cash
The lyrics of Cash’s 1974 ‘Ragged Old Flag’ paint the picture of an old man comparing a tattered and torn but still waving flag in their town square to America’s history. Popular among Johnny’s loyal fan base, he could write a patriotic tune without getting cliche. He highlights the country’s beautiful landscape and hard-working people in several of his America-focused tracks.
God Bless the USA – Lee Greenwood
One of the modern era’s most popular patriotic tunes, Lee Greenwood’s ‘God Bless the USA’ was released in 1984. Also sometimes referred to as ‘I’m Proud to Be an American,’ Greenwood was inspired to write the tune which promotes unity and hope after Korean Airlines Flight 007 was shot down while traveling from Alaska to South Korea.
Related: Get inspired by these songs about working together.
American Saturday Night – Brad Paisley
Released in 2009, ‘American Saturday Night’ was one of several tunes country musician Brad Paisley would release over the years featuring light-hearted social commentary about the country he calls home. With this single, he lists popular foreign products showcasing America’s cultural diversity, from cars to boots.
Related: Here are some more of the best Saturday songs.
America – Simon & Garfunkel
In the mid-1960s, Paul Simon took a cross-country road trip with his then-girlfriend Kathy. While traveling, he was inspired to write this introspective piece, which follows two young lovers traveling across the country searching for the ideal “America.”
Related: This song features on our playlist of songs about smoking cigarettes.
Color Me America – Dolly Parton
Celebrating the birth of America with references to “red and white and blue,” country royalty Dolly Parton once again sings about her love of the US with ‘Color Me America.’ Perfect for Independence Day, the tune highlights the ideals the country stands for no matter who you are, including justice, peace, equality, and freedom.
Red White & Blue – Lynyrd Skynyrd
“My neck’s always been red. My collar’s still blue.” Released shortly after 9/11, southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd penned ‘Red White & Blue’ as an unapologetic anthem of the American way of life. Though their genre suggests their reach was regional, their patriotic tracks gained international popularity, much like their biggest hits.
Back in the Usa (Bonus Track) – Chuck Berry
“New York, Los Angeles, oh, how I yearned for you.” From Baton Rouge to Chicago, rocker Chuck Berry lists all the diverse cities in America he loves with ‘Back in the USA.’ This feel-good tune has been covered by a wide variety of artists, including Linda Ronstadt and the New York Dolls.
Related: Keep visiting new places with these songs with city names.
The Stars and Stripes Forever – John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa penned this soaring military march song in the late 1800s on Christmas Day. ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’ is a reference to America’s flag, and Sousa wrote the song on board a ship on his way home from a vacation in Europe.
Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American) – Toby Keith
After 9/11, several country stars released songs focusing on messages of love, unity, and patriotism in America. Toby Keith released several singles dedicated to Americans, including those who would ultimately serve overseas in the middle east post-9/11. With his ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,’ he channels Americans’ frustrations and pain while trying to comprehend the tragic events from September 2001.
Related: If you need support while getting through a hard time, here are the best songs about tragic events.
Some Gave All – Billy Ray Cyrus
“All gave some, and some gave all.” Appearing as the last track on his hit debut album by the same name, ‘Some Gave All’ is a poignant ’90s country classic about a young soldier who left to go to war as a boy and, after serving, comes back as a man. Other songs featured on the album include his signature track ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ and a cover of ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking.’
This Land is Your Land – Woody Guthrie
With the message that America belongs to everyone at the heart of the song, Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land is Your Land,’ which he first started writing in 1940, is generally mistaken for a patriotic anthem. He intended the song to be a “parody” of Irving Berlin’s genuinely patriotic anthem, ‘God Bless America.’ Worker’s rights were the main reason behind Guthrie’s frustrations.
Related: You can find this song on our list of the best old folk songs.
America – London Symphony Orchestra and Neil Diamond
“Far, we’ve been traveling far without a home, but not without a star.” In 2020, Neil Diamond released his compilation album Classic Diamonds which features some of his greatest hits played alongside the legendary London Symphony Orchestra. Included on the album is the inspirational track ‘America,’ which tells the tale of a family of immigrants making their way to the land of the free.
You’re a Grand Old Flag – George M. Cohan
Written in 1906 while working on his musical George Washington, Jr., George Cohan’s ‘You’re a Grand Old Flag’ is a vibrant, classic march honoring America’s flag. The song also appeared in the popular film Yankee Doodle Dandy, which chronicles Cohen’s celebrated Broadway work.
American Pie – Don McLean
Future hit songwriter Don McLean was just a young paperboy when he saw the devasting newspaper article chronicling the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper due to a small plane crash. Known as “the day the music died,” McLeod revisited that tragic day and his array of emotions as he wrote ‘American Pie’ as a tribute to Holly, who was one of his main musical influences.
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Star Spangled Banner – Jimi Hendrix
One of Woodstock’s most memorable performances came from guitar impresario Jimi Hendrix’s impromptu, instrumental performance of ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’ His high-powered rendition was meant to wake up a sleepy (and perhaps hung-over) music festival crowd in 1969, and it worked. His dynamic performance set the tone for the rest of the show.
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American Boy – Estelle
Described as a “ladies’ anthem” by Estelle, ‘American Boy’ showcases her encounters with the charming men of New York set to a danceable beat. John Legend had a hand in the songwriting process, and rapper Kanye West also made an appearance on the hit song.
Related: This song is one of the best R&B songs of the 2000s.
Party in the U.S.A. – Miley Cyrus
Miley’s debut single that transitioned her from a child star on the hit series Hannah Montana to an adult pop star, ‘Party in the U.S.A.’ was a smash hit in the summer of 2009. The light-hearted, feel-good tune is heavily autobiographical, documenting her ambitious move from small-town Tennessee to fast-moving Los Angeles.
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American Girl – Tom Petty
While living in a small, ocean-side apartment in California, Tom Petty wrote ‘American Girl’ while listening to waves crashing in the distance through his open living room window. The song’s subject matter, though, deals with his hometown of Gainseville, Florida, and an urban legend on campus at the University of Florida involving a young girl who fell to her death from a dorm room window.
Related: See our playlist of the best classic rock songs of all time.
R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A Salute to 60’s Rock) – John Mellencamp
Released in 1985 and subtitled ‘A Salute to ’60s Rock,’ John Mellencamp’s ‘R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.’ is a nod to the diverse musical influences he was exposed to growing up thanks to AM radio. The hit single is a salute to the early rockers before him who gave future musicians the confidence to take risks and experiment with their songwriting.
Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
In the early ’70s, nature-loving songwriter John Denver was still on the outskirts of the music industry. After co-writing ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ with two fellow writers in the business, he performed the song at a small show the night they finished it. With the lyrics written on a piece of paper taped to his microphone, he played it as an encore, and the crowd went wild. After the song was released, he scored his first hit.
Related: Feeling homesick? Here are the best songs about going home.
American Soldier – Toby Keith
Country songwriter Toby Keith has written several tracks over his career honoring America’s military. With his 2003 release of ‘American Soldier,’ he pays his respects to those fighting overseas by telling the emotional story of a young soldier leaving home to fight in a war.
Related: Get to work with the best songs with a profession in the title.
Made in the USA – Demi Lovato
Written as a friendly followup to Miley Cyrus’ ‘Party in the U.S.A.,’ Demi Lovato scored her own hit with the pop track ‘Made in the USA.’ She shows off her American pride in the song as she relates a passionate romance to all the ways it’s American-made.
This is My Country – Tennessee Ernie Ford
Released on his 1970 album America The Beautiful, ‘Sixteen Tons’ singer Tennessee Ernie Ford dedicated the project to release some of his favorite patriotic tunes. Originally written by Al Jacobs and David Raye, ‘This is My Country’ is included on the track listing and is a rousing tribute to the US.
Lift Every Voice and Sing – Beyoncé
Originating as a poem by Jacksonville, Florida resident James Weldon Johnson, ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ was adapted to music and became known as the “black national anthem.” When R&B/pop artist Beyonce headlined the Coachella music festival, she added an inspirational song to her set list to bring hope and unity to the audience.
Philadelphia Freedom – Elton John
A popular theme in the ’70s was the ongoing ‘Battle of the Sexes’ competition. A hit TV series arose from the friendly competition, and tennis pro Billie Jean King scored a win for the ladies when she beat the number one male tennis player Bobby Riggs during a televised match. Inspired by her victory, Elton John commissioned his writing partner Barry Taupin to write a tune honoring her team, the Philadelphia Freedoms.
An American Trilogy – Elvis Presley
Performed on Elvis’ televised concert Aloha from Hawaii, ‘An American Trilogy’ is a moving spiritual medley honoring the country’s history by combining three notable tunes, ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ ‘Dixie,’ and ‘All My Trials.’
Bumper of My SUV – Chely Wright
A classic country song showing support for America’s military, songwriter Chely Wright wrote ‘Bumper of My SUV’ after a woman flipped her off and yelled at her for having a US Marines sticker on the back of her car. She uses the song to explain her family’s military roots and that just because you support America’s soldiers doesn’t mean you are pro-war.
All-American Girl – Carrie Underwood
Co-written with fellow country artists Ashley Gorley and Kelley Lovelace, Carrie Underwood’s uplifting single ‘All-American Girl’ is a perfect match for country music fans who are also big fans of football. Underwood’s story centers around a young father who gives up a promising football career for love. When they have their first child, he’s hoping for a boy, but he gets a girl. He soon realizes, though, while he never had an all-American football career, he’s the father to the “perfect all-American girl.”
Related: If you’re expecting a baby soon, prepare yourself with these songs about newborns.
Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly – Aaron Tippin
“I was born by God’s dear grace in an extraordinary place.” This 2002 hit is country songwriter Aaron Tippin’s signature track. With references to America’s flag and popular symbols of freedom like the Statue of Liberty, he draws on his love for the country as he sings about how proud he is to live where “the stars and stripes and the eagle flies.”
American Dreamin’ – Jay-Z
With his 2007 song ‘American Dreamin’,’ rapper Jay-Z sampled one of America’s most loved artists with Marvin Gaye’s tune ‘Soon I’ll Be Loving You Again.’ Jay-Z’s song finds him daydreaming about the quintessential “American dream” and what it means to him and his family.
Mr. Red, White, And Blue – Coffey Anderson
“It’s the guts, and it’s the glory. A hundred stripes, a hundred stories.” One of the most moving modern patriotic songs written, Coffey Anderson’s emotionally-rousing ‘Mr. Red, White, and Blue’ was penned in honor of veterans who have served in the military. During his charity work with Military Warriors Support Foundation, one veteran in particular, Craig Carp, served as the initial inspiration for the track.
America – Waylon Jennings
Country outlaw Waylon Jennings honors veterans with his 1984 song ‘America.’ He takes a unique approach to otherwise tried-and-true songwriting material for the more traditional genre when he brings together all men associated with the controversial Vietnam War—both those who fought and those like Muhammad Ali who stood against the draft.
Arlington – Trace Adkins
Residing in Virginia, Arlington National Cemetary is the final resting place for many of America’s most treasured heroes. Deeply moved by this peaceful place with so much history, country singer (and hip-shaker) Trace Adkins recorded ‘Arlington,’ a song written by Jeremy Spillman and Dave Turnbull honoring veterans who are laid to rest at the sacred graveyard.
In America – The Charlie Daniels Band
In 1979 a group of extremists stormed the US Embassy in Iran and took over 50 hostages. After learning about the harrowing event in the news, Charlie Daniels Band wrote the tune ‘In America’ and released it in 1980 as a reminder to the world the “American spirit” does not cower and is “galvanized” by such acts.
American Woman – Lenny Kravitz
Rocker Lenny Kravitz took America by storm in the ’90s with his cover of The Guess Who’s ‘American Woman.’ Singing about a wild American woman who can’t be tamed, audiences largely misinterpreted the catchy track as a positive song about Americans. The original intention while writing the single was to honor Canadian women, the country The Guess Who members are from.
Young Americans – David Bowie
Written by Englander David Bowie in the mid-’70s, he was never actually a ‘Young American.’ Instead, his song was a way for him to reflect and channel his “American experience” into art form. The song contains many timely references to American culture in the ’70s, including John Lennon’s death, Soul Train, and former President Nixon.
Related: Enjoy more famous saxophone songs.
Kids in America – Kim Wilde
Though ’80s artist Kim Wilde hails from England, that didn’t stop her songwriting brother and father from writing a hit celebrating the youth across the pond. ‘Kids in America’ pays tribute to the United States’ starry-eyed generation of the ’80s and charted high at number two in the UK after its release.
Related: Hear a cover of this song on our list of songs from Clueless.