The national anthem's okay, if unsingable. "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" is all right, but of course it was also stolen from the English, which seems cheating somehow. "America the Beautiful" is a wonderful song, but you do run into the pilgrim feet with stern, impassioned stress, which is rather silly. "God Bless America" is frankly bad. And everyone since Irving Berlin has written utter, utter bilge.
I speak today chiefly of "God Bless the USA," as I believe it is called. Has anyone ever written a more sick-making song? Especially one that was meant to be taken seriously? It's hokey, it only sort of rhymes some of the time, and it sounds like garbage.
...and I just actually looked at the words written down and it's worse than I thought. I knew that the USA of the song was a USA of illiterates (viz.: "There ain't no doubt...."), which is embarrassing and should not be immortalized but could perhaps be put down to colorful vernacular.
I'll quote the whole first verse:
If tomorrow all the things were gone I’d worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife.
I’d thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away.
Seriously? What is that? Tortured syntax, ambiguous pronouns, gratuitous cheese, it's all there.
And then the second verse:
From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee,
Across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea,
From Detroit down to Houston and New York to LA,
Well, there’s pride in every American heart,
and it’s time to stand and say:
Does Texas have plains? They don't come to mind for me, but perhaps I am strange. And what in the name of all that is holy is the meter supposed to be?
I wouldn't mind if it were a throwaway song. A lot of the songs written for, say, England for World Cups and the like are dreadful. But in two weeks no one will listen to them. This song has staying power. It's atrocious! The English, they have "Jerusalem." They have "There'll Always Be an England." Yes, those songs are sappy and "Jerusalem" is tripped out, but they rhyme and they have tunes and grammar and everything.
I ask you please to boycott "God Bless the USA."