“Where liberty dwells, there is my country.” – Benjamin Franklin
Welcome to a special edition of Overlooked Hooks. Instead of waiting to post tomorrow, this is a Monday post on the birthday of the USA. I looked for some patriotic songs first, and then found Shooter Jennings “4th Of July”. What I really resonate with this song is its individuality. It’s easy to talk about our corporate love of this country, but Shooter makes it personal. Americans all have one attribute in common: Each of us is a single person, we have our own thoughts, needs, hopes, fears, and everything else. We all experience holidays like The 4th in our own way. I chose this song because of the way Jennings makes his lyrics so personal while still keeping it universal so that any American can put themselves in his place.
Shooter gets the most out of a straightforward rock sound here. This is classic rock, with a bit of country, but also some unexpected sounds from the pop world. Shooter keeps it simple with a classic hook structure. The music is fired up quick from the first note, you get a drum-driven sound with some jangle-poppy guitar, something a bit unexpected for this genre. “You were pretty as can be…” to “Happy to be, with me…” is a repetition of the same set of notes. That makes the ascending notes for “on the fourth of July” more of a surprise, and a stick in the mind. The end of the song uses a cool convention to illustrate the story of the song. Once Shooter’s finished singing, there’s the sound of a radio being tuned from the “rock and roll” of his song, and into George singing “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, so Jennings takes a poke at himself, switching from his own song to the country of GJ, just like he does in the song.
Since the birth of rock ‘n roll, there’s always been songs about riding in a car with your best girl. Shooter breaks no new ground here, but he does give his story a feel that gives me a sense that this really happened. What sets this song apart from an ordinary story of running on the road is the vulnerability that Jennings puts into it. There are plenty of rock anthems to being free on the road, not needing any woman to tie you down but Shooter drives in his own direction.
“Those white lines get drawn into the sun if you aint got no one to keep you hanging on.” The song is about being with someone you love on a special day. Just about anyone can relate to that, not being alone at Christmas, or in this case having someone to watch the fireworks with on the 4th of July.
For this 4th, I hope you have someone special with you to sit and watch those fireworks. It’s a great day to celebrate freedom. Not just in the US, but everywhere that the people stand up like our Founding Fathers and sacrifice their individual freedoms for the freedom of all.