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Fourth is the right time for - Yankee Doodle Dandies

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For the Fourth of July, we cover our Top Ten Patriotic Songs of All Time, ever, at least 'til next year. And it’s amazing what you can find when you dare to look beneath the surface…

For a grab bag of irony, it’s hard to top “God Bless America."

Written by a Russian/Jewish immigrant, based on an Irish novelty tune, it also inspired (in protest) one of America’s most famous folk songs…

Irving Berlin came to the USA as a young boy, and became a fiercely patriotic American. He was serving in the Army when he penned the first version in 1918, and music historians agree that it draws heavily on a melody from a novelty song of the day “When Mose With His Nose Leads the Band." (Horribly racist to us, but racial stereotyping was common in popular culture of that era.)

The song mostly laid around until 1938, and with the darkening cloud of fascism spreading in Europe, Berlin felt it was time to revise it as a "peace song," and arranged for Kate Smith to sing it on her radio show on Armistice Day. The song became a hit, and there was talk of replacing "The Star Spangled Banner." But conservatives were strongly opposed to having an anthem composed by a foreigner and a Jew.

In 1940, Woody Guthrie decided the popular version was unrealistic and in response wrote a song called “God Blessed America For Me." The title was eventually changed, and we have a feeling you may know this one. It goes something like this:

This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This Land was made for you and me

(Footnote: Berlin donated all the royalties from his version of “God Bless America” to the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls.)

John has worked as a professional bassist for 20 years, including a 15 year stint as Musical Director of the Mountain Stage radio program. John has been at KNKX since 1999 where he hosts “All Blues”, is producer of the BirdNote radio program, and co-hosts “Record Bin Roulette”. John is also the recording engineer for KNKX “In-Studio Performances”. Not surprisingly, John's main musical interests are jazz and blues, and he is still performing around Seattle.
John Maynard started working in radio in the seventies as a DJ at Seattle’s KJR AM which at the time was the dominant AM station in the Seattle market. After a brief stint as a restaurateur and night club owner, Maynard returned to radio with Robin Erickson, creating the hugely popular “Robin and Maynard Show.” In the more than 20 years under that marquee, Maynard flew with the Blue Angels, piloted the Goodyear Blimp, sang with Donny Osmond and hung out in a Universal Studios bar with Kojak (Telly Savalas).