PSYCHOLOGY OF A (COMPLICATED) SONG (Segue of the Day (2): 7/4/17)

Martina McBride released “Independence Day” in 1994. By her standards it was a relatively modest hit. Her previous two singles had gone top ten Country. “Independence Day” stalled at #12. In the years since she has racked up an additional fifteen country top tens, including five #1’s.

There is no question “Independence Day” is her signature song.

I’ve posted the original video before but it’s worth repeating, as one of the strongest videos ever produced and, by my reckoning, the last really great country gothic murder ballad–no less a ballad for being a rocker and no less murder (or gothic) for being justified.

Since then, the song has gone through many permutations, some not so subtle (it was, for a long time and over songwriter Gretchen Peters’ strenuous objections, the theme song of Sean Hannity’s radio show), some subtle indeed (see below) where, weeks after Sept, 11, 2001, the song is turned into a foot-stomping melodrama, from which thousands of waving flags cannot quite remove the sting–or the irony–probably because McBride doesn’t know how to cheat (or at very least doesn’t know how to cheat this song):

…And ,all these years later still, via the miracle of YouTube, you can watch her let the audience snatch it all the way back to something primal enough that the narrator in the original might recognize it again.

Posted as the homemade fireworks boom over my little town’s streets. Happy rest of the year America!

TALK ABOUT YOUR REVOLUTION (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #62)

“Independence Day”
Martina McBride (1994)

Blogging is a funny exercise. I wouldn’t say I ever get “Blogger’s Block” in the sense that I run out of things to write about. That never happens.

What does happen is I find myself with several long posts in process (or at least in gestation) and simply don’t have the time and/or energy to do any of them justice. And, at what seems to very often be one and the same time, I find myself with a shortage of topics that can be handled in the time life happens to be allowing.

Invariably, I have a day where five or six things occur at once and, over the ensuing week or so, I manage to write about half of them anyway before they lose whatever hold they had on me that I hope to pass along.

Today was that sort of day. I’ll be posting a few things over the next week that came out of today. In fact, I spent the whole day assuming one of those things that kept coming up would claim the top spot once I was off of work.

Didn’t happen.

What happened instead was I got in the mood to pull up some country songs on YouTube.

Usually that just means a lot of Patty Loveless and a little of whoever else comes to mind, but this time it was different.

I pulled up Montgomery Gentry’s “Roll With Me,” a fine hit from the very tail end of what will likely turn out to be country’s last point of connection to anything like roots.

Then, for some reason, Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” popped into my head.

I’ve never played “Independence Day” on YouTube. I don’t even play it much on CD as I’ve never found it very easy to listen to, but one thing a quick YouTube search confirmed was my sneaking suspicion that lots of other people find it very easy to listen to. Though it wasn’t a huge hit when it was released in the early nineties (#12 on the Country chart, no Pop action), it’s become something of a signature song for McBride, thanks in part to Sean Hannity yanking it out by the roots and using it as a theme song for years on his radio show (apparently he still does, the song’s writer, Gretchen Peters, has tried to have it pulled for years, and donates all the royalties she receives from his airplay to charity), in relation to what he assumed would be a triumphal outcome to our adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also won plenty of awards and shows up on various “Greatest Country Song” lists.

However it became such a calling card, McBride has had little choice but to belt it out in dozens of dubious contexts. A Pat Benetar duet; with the Boston Pops on the 4th of July; in every venue where a mainstream country singer with half a dozen platinum albums is expected to perform.

I wouldn’t say she ever does it less than justice either, at least vocally. That is, she never does it less than justice except that there isn’t any context outside of the original recording that really can do it justice.

Or so I thought until I pulled the official video, which I had somehow missed back in the day and never thought to pull up until today.

After which all those other great ideas I had throughout the day vanished.

I just read on Wikipedia that this was later voted the second greatest country music video.

I don’t even want to know what they thought was greater but I bet whoever voted for the other one never watched a man beat up his wife in the cab of a pickup while all the solid citizens shook their heads and turned back to watch the Pony League game. I was fourteen and my parents weren’t there. I still think I should have done something.