Something about summer puts me in a country music mood. I’m an outspoken country music fan, but I have to make a confession: I didn’t grow up on country music, and I didn’t grow up in the country. Nonetheless I’ve always preferred wide open spaces to city life, and I’ve fallen in love with country music.
There are so many reasons to love it! It’s a broad genre, for one thing—there’s country music for practically every occasion, from road trips to wedding receptions! There’s something so real, so human, and just so American about it. Sure, there are the stereotypical truck-broke-down, dog-just-died, girl-left-me drinking songs, but believe it or not, those aren’t the majority of country songs.
I would argue that the heart of country music is patriotism—some are overtly patriotic, like tributes to our troops, and many more just express the core values of real Americans.
Don’t believe me? Here are ten patriotic country songs that are bound to change your mind. And lest you think I went digging to find these ten: I picked my top ten from my four-hour-long Patriotic Country playlist. I haven’t ranked them or anything—it was tough enough just to narrow it down to ten!
One of the very first country songs I fell in love with as a teen, it describes a “picture-perfect postcard” of America: lemonade stands, proms, Chevrolets, and people coming from miles around to help out their neighbors after a tornado ‘cause that just what Americans do.
Now, we don’t always get it all right, but there’s no place else I’d rather build my life.
‘Cause it’s a kid with a chance, it’s a rock ’n’ roll band, it’s a farmer cuttin’ hay,
It’s a big flag flyin’ in the summer wind over a fallen hero’s grave…
…It’s cities and farms, it’s open arms, one nation under God, it’s America.”
This song does a beautiful job of acknowledging America’s flaws while still serving as a sort of love song to our country. “I don’t wanna lose sight of who we are.” It also gives a nod to our foundation: the bravery of the Pilgrims crossing the ocean to the New World, of the Founders who made us a nation, and of those who have given everything for this country.
From the mountains high, to the wave-crashed coast,
There’s a way to find better days, I know.
…It’s been a long, hard ride, and I won’t lose hope.
This is still the place that we all call home.
Leave it to Toby Keith to create some of the catchiest, most hardcore American music out there. He came out with “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” right after 9/11—it’s a great song, but this one is my favorite of his. It’s about his “old man,” a classic American who lives off the land— with “dirty hands and a clean soul”—and his mom, who “decorates on the 4th of July, but says every day’s Independence Day.”
He’s got the red, white and blue flying high on the farm,
Semper Fi tattooed on his left arm,
Spend a little more in the store for a tag in the back that says “USA.”
Won’t buy nothin’ that he can’t fix with WD-40 and a Craftsman wrench.
He ain’t prejudiced, he’s just—Made in America.
This one’s a tribute to military heroes and their families—but also to every American who lives for hope, for honor, for love, and who courageously stand up for what they believe.
Here’s to the ones who stand their ground, here’s to the ones that never back down,
Here’s to the home of the free.
Here’s to the ones who still believe in taking chances and running down a dream,
Oh, oh here’s to the red, white and blue—here’s to people like me and you.
Like Home, this one is a love song to America’s heritage and potential, and it’s filled with so much hope, but it doesn’t pretend America is perfect. It’s seriously one of the best “How do we honor those who have fallen and died for this dream? I’m sure of one thing, it’s not with gridlock or bickering.”
Tonight, I dare you to dream—go on, believe impossible things!
Whenever anybody says there’s anything we can’t do,
After all, there’s an American flag on the moon.
In the spirit of down-to-earth country, Aldean pokes a little fun at elites who fly first-class from New York to LA and cast judgment on the countryside they’ve never visited—corn fields and wheat farms that all look the same, “miles and miles of back roads and highways connecting them towns with funny names. Who’d want to live down there, in the middle of nowhere?” Then he draws attention to the natural beauty of the country, and the good-hearted, hard-working people who live there: “You’ll understand why God made those fly over states.”
Everybody gets a chance to chase their dream, anybody can become whatever they want—that’s not true anywhere else in the world. That kind of freedom and opportunity is what makes America so special.
Only in America—dreaming in red, white and blue.
Only in America—where we dream as big as we want to.
We all get a chance, everybody gets to dance, only in America.
I said I didn’t grow up on country music—Randy Travis is the exception, and this song is one of his best. It’ll make your heart swell with hope, if not pride, that America remains the greatest nation in the world despite everything we’ve been through.
So raise the banner, called Old Glory, let us join our fellow man
History will write the story, America will always stand
It’s the good life, the American life, the American dream—from fighting for freedom overseas, to working hard to provide for your family. “If all you really do is the best you can… you did it, man.”
That’s something to be proud of, that’s a life you can hang your hat on,
That’s a chin held high as the tears fall down, gut sucked in, chest stuck out.
Like a small-town flag a-flyin’, or a newborn baby cryin’ in the arms of the woman that you love—
That’s something to be proud of.
In case you’re wondering, Americans aren’t just defined by their jobs—there’s more to us than that, and as this song points out, “if you wanna know who we are, it’s on the logos of our caps.” Paisley highlights so many of the teams Americans cheer for and causes we care about—“and we crank up the same songs Friday night, on two thousand country stations, yeah we’re one big country nation, that’s right.”
We’re all across the map, down city streets and old dirt roads.
We’re the fabric of this nation, and we’re a nation all our own.
That’s it! I’ve pulled all these into a YouTube playlist for your convenience—here.
Before you go, in the spirit of defending country music, I wanted to give you a few more songs—not so much patriotic as just good ol’ country. There are a lot of drinking songs and hookup songs, and even more breakup songs; I’m not much of a fan of those. But there are just as many that express true love and commitment, and celebrate the good life—the kind of songs that just make you wish you were on a front porch swing with your special person. If you’re interested, here are a few of my favorites! They’re not in order, cause once again, narrowing them down was challenge enough—there are so many more! These are on a YouTube playlist, here.
- Mean to Me – Brett Eldredge
- God Gave Me You – Blake Shelton
- Fast Cars, Slow Kisses – Aaron Watson
- Zero to Sixty – Aaron Watson
- In Color – Jamey Johnson
- Lookin’ Back with You – Craig Morgan
- Simple – Florida-Georgia Line
- Grow Old – Florida-Georgia Line
- Blessings – Florida-Georgia Line
- May We All – Florida-Georgia Line ft. Tim McGraw
- The Boys of Fall – Kenny Chesney
- I’ll Name the Dogs – Blake Shelton
- Beautiful Every Time – Lee Brice
- Even if it Breaks Your Heart – Eli Young Band
- Go Outside and Dance – Eli Young Band
- Till My Dyin’ Day – Brooks & Dunn
- Dear Life – High Valley
- Don’t Stop – High Valley
- Backroad Song – Granger Smith
- I Won’t Let Go – Rascal Flatts