Canadian commentator Gordon Sinclair's 1973 single started out as a radio broadcast - they just added...
...a rousing musical accompaniment. All proceeds went to the American Red Cross. The record got to No. 24 on the Billboard charts. There were several cover versions, one of which reached No. 4 in the charts (the proceeds from which also went to the American Red Cross).
Ronald Reagan met Gordon Sinclair on his first official visit to Canada, in 1981. The President mentioned the commentator during the welcoming ceremonies, and the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had Sinclair flown to Ottawa to meet Reagan at a reception that same evening. When Sinclair died in 1984, Reagan issued the following statement:
"I know I speak for all Americans in saying the radio editorial Gordon wrote in 1973 praising the accomplishments of the United States was a wonderful inspiration. It was not only critics abroad who forgot this nation's many great achievements, but even critics here at home. Gordon Sinclair reminded us to take pride in our nation's fundamental values."Hearing the record for the first time yesterday got me thinking about other patriotic (or, as in Sinclair's case, pro-American) hits. Here's a selection, starting with James Brown's "Living in America" (1985), which was featured (in a subtle, understated fashion) in the film Rocky IV:
Here, Chuck Berry mimes somewhat carelessly to his splendid 1959 paean of praise to his homeland, "Back in the USA":
Neil Diamond performed "Coming to America" in the 1980 remake of The Jazz Singer - I expect Laurence Olivier was humming it for days after shooting this scene:
Ron Greenwood performs his 1983 song, "God Bless the USA" before a World Series game at Yankee Stadium in 2001:
The American "comedian" Rich Hall's country music documentary was repeated on BBC 4 at the weekend. In it, he raises the ridiculous old trope about Merle Haggard's hit "Okie from Muskogee" possibly being a satire on traditional conservative American attitudes. Liberals like Hall love Merle's uncompromising, blue collar authenticity so much, they just can't bear the thought that he was a mean ol' right-winger. Here's another Haggard number, "The Fightin' Side of Me" from 1970 - the year after "Okie". Doesn't sound particularly satirical to me:
Elvis, with Mickey Newbury's "An American Trilogy":
There's no mention of America in Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" - but we get it:
Johnny Cash reciting his rabidly patriotic 1974 song, 'Ragged Old Flag", with The Highwaymen (how this went down with bandmate, Che Guevara fanboy Kris Kristofferson, I've no idea):
Toby Keith's 2002 hit, "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.":
Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler's "Ballad of the Green Berets" topped the American charts for five weeks in 1966 (and somehow managed to get to No. 4 in Germany - bought by US troops stationed there?):