Rev up your 4th of July party with 50 songs that express independence, featuring American artists from Motown to Beastie Boys. This is a really well-thought out list.

Our playlist comes from Bradley Spinelli, author of the apocalyptic novel Killing Williamsburg, and detective sensation, The Painted Gun. He has dual passions: writing and music. He’s played bass for ‘90s Dallas punk band Clutch 5, DJ’d in Brooklyn, and interviews bands for New York Magazine’s Bedford + Bowery.

hobnobmag The Painted Gun

The 4th of July lends itself naturally to day parties, so this playlist starts in daylight and gradually fills to bursting with starlight.—Bradley Spinelli

Here’s what’s in the mix:

Jazz is distinctly an American form, and this song  was a huge hit, stepping out on its own with the unusual time signature 5/4:

Dave Brubeck: Time Out

When it comes to independent labels, there are the classics like Stax:
Eddie Floyd: Knock On Wood
Booker T & The MGs: Green Onions
Sam And Dave: Hold On, I’m Comin’
Otis Redding: Pain in my Heart

…and Motown:
The Temptations: Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone
Marvin Gaye: I Heard It Through The Grapevine

…and of course Matador:
Pavement: Stereo
Modest Mouse: Heart Cooks Brain

…and Grand Royal, the now-defunct Beastie Boys’ label:

Butter 08: How Do I Relax
Luscious Jackson: Naked Eye

Without getting into Sousa, there are some obvious “America” songs, but I prefer less-obvious Americana:
Johnny Cash: I’ve Been Everywhere
Willie Nelson: Denver
John Cougar: Jack & Diane
Lenny Kravitz: American Woman (cover)
Tom Petty: American Girl

Being independent often means getting away from someone:
Allen Toussaint: Get Out Of My Life Woman
Kelly Clarkson: Since You’ve Been Gone

…or getting out from under someone:

Beyoncé: Run The World (Girls)
Lauryn Hill: Doo Wop (That Thing)
No Doubt: Just A Girl
Janet Jackson: Control

…or getting out of jail or bondage, literally or figuratively:
Lucinda Williams: Concrete and Barbed Wire
Bang! Bang!: Le Tigre
Roberta Flack: Go Up Moses

…or wanting to be in bondage:
James Brown & the Famous Flames: Please, Please, Please
Rolling Stones: Beast of Burden
Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams

…or just facing up to the facts:
George Michael: Freedom! ‘90
Scissor Sisters: Take Your Mama
Marcus Collins: Seven Nation Army
Billy Idol: Dancing with Myself
Robyn: You Can’t Handle Me
Katy Perry: Firework

Our independence was forged by rebellion—and rebellion is the heart of rock n’ roll:
Arlo Guthrie: Comin’ into Los Angeles
Crosby Stills Nash & Young: Almost Cut My Hair
Jimi Hendrix: If 6 Was 9
Cream: Tales of Brave Ulysses
Clash: Straight to Hell

Hiphop was nothing short of a revolution, a distinctly American art form:
KRS: 1 Step into a World
Grandmaster Flash: The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel
Public Enemy: Welcome to the Terrordome
Notorious B.I.G.: Mo Money Mo Problems
Beastie Boys: Sabotage
MIA: Paper Planes (DFA Remix)

And sometimes there’s a rebellion against the revolution, which got us the creation of the “Indie:”

Fuck: Twist Off
Blondie: Heart of Glass
Ciccone Youth: Into the Groovey
Velvet Underground: What Goes On

And this song kind of says it all:
Alicia Keys: Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down

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