Many consider America the greatest country on earth, and it has undoubtedly produced some of the most groundbreaking art and music in the world.
So many innovative artists who have come from the United States also sing about their homeland.
Whether with love or criticism, these songs about America are classics that everyone will want to sing along to.
1. Born in the U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen
There is no more quintessential American song than this classic from Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen is a pillar of American music, and his album cover that features this song has many American flag motifs.
Just hearing the first few beats of this song will transport you to a July 4th barbeque. Beneath the triumphant melody is an intense song about what it means to be American, especially during the Vietnam war. This song is beautiful, complicated, and full of heart, just like the country it portrays.
2. This Land is Your Land – Woody Guthrie
This is one of the most beautiful and thoughtful songs about America. Like Springsteen’s ballad above, it paints a picture of both the beautiful and tragic parts of the country. Guthrie starts the song hailing the country’s beautiful landscape from East to West.
As the song progresses, he sings of some of the problems in the country and urges for change. While this might seem unpatriotic, one of the best parts of the Land of the Free is being able to express any feelings without consequence. This song is about the beauty of the country and the beauty of fighting for what is right.
3. American Pie – Don McLean
No matter how old you are or what kind of music you listen to, you probably know the iconic chorus to this song. McLean wrote this long ballad about “the day the music died” when a plane crash killed Buddy Holly and other famous American musicians.
The song also features some other common aspects of classic American folk songs–criticisms of the Vietnam war and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. While this song is a bit of a downer, it is also a complete classic that every American knows and loves.
4. American Girl – Tom Petty
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers capture a classic American feeling of wanting more out of life with this classic. This is another song that will have everyone dancing along when it comes on at the July 4th barbeque. Tom Petty is one of the most iconic country-rock singers of a generation, and his vocals are unmatched.
The song tells the tale of a girl looking out into the world for more opportunities and chances. Petty sings of how she was raised on promises and describes the quintessential American mindset and legend about wanting more from life.
5. Living in America – James Brown
The second the first beat of this song comes on, you’ll be up dancing. Any James Brown song is addictive and dance-worthy, but this one is especially perfect for any American wedding or party. Along with a great beat, this song is about all the best parts of America.
Brown sings this song like he’s on a road trip, mentioning all the best places to travel on the road across the country. He sings about everywhere from New Orleans to Chicago and even Pittsburgh. Anyone anywhere in America will find their home in this song.
6. America – Simon & Garfunkle
Paul Simon showcased his best songwriting skills with this ballad about the stunning landscape of America. He wrote it during a road trip across the country with an ex-girlfriend, where they were searching for what America genuinely looks like–both literally and figuratively.
The song tells the story of the road trip itself, from Michigan along the rust belt to the famous New Jersey Turnpike. Americans will recognize searing for some piece of themselves along these iconic highways. With Simon’s lyrics and Garfunkle’s melodic voice, this song was an instant classic.
7. Party in the U.S.A – Miley Cyrus
This song might not be familiar to fans of the rock songs on our list, but this song has been a pop classic for over a decade. The song came out in 2009 and was one of Cyrus’s first blockbuster hits after she left the Disney Channel.
The song tells a classic American picture of someone arriving in Los Angeles for the first time to start the rest of her life. But, unlike some of the more political songs on our list, this tune is triumphant and fun.
8. Ragged Old Flag – Johnny Cash
In true Johnny Cash style, this is more than just a song. It’s a complete story. Cash weaves a complex tale in just a few minutes, telling an American story that has become a legend. This song is a unique work of art that Cash paints with his bluesy voice.
The song’s protagonist is an old man sitting on a bench who tells cash the story of an American flag. The story weaves hundreds of years of American history together. It starts with the American Revolution through the War of 1812 and the Alamo, ending when the song was written. It’s a great history lesson for anyone who prefers music to school!
9. California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & the Papas
This song isn’t about America as a country, but it still feels quintessentially American. The Mamas & the Papas dominated the folk and rock music scene in the 1960s, and their song about California has withstood the test of time. Today, Americans sing and dance to this song when they feel nostalgic.
Their crooning voices and upbeat instruments tell the tale of dreaming of California’s beautiful weather and blue skies on a dreary day somewhere cold. The song evokes another quintessential American pastime, thinking about moving to California.
10. American Boy – Estelle
This is the only song on our list sung by a Brit, but trust us, it’s a classic. Estelle’s beautiful voice and the catchy beat sing of all things American. She sings about a boy taking her on a trip across the states, from LA to NYC and in between!
The boy in question? Kanye before he was Kanye. This was one of Kanye’s first appearances in a pop song and helped bring him mainstream. His rap is iconic as always and first perfectly with Estelle’s vocals.
11. Empire State of Mind – Jay Z and Alicia Keys
While this song isn’t about America as a whole, no list of American songs can be complete without this classic from Jay Z and Alicia Keys. No other song captures the magic of New York City and the country quite as well as this.
The lyrics speak of a place full of opportunity and adventure, which is true of America as a country and New York as a city. Everyone can sing along with Alicia to the beautiful chorus, and those brave enough have already memorized Jay-Z’s stellar rap.
12. Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
This is the kind of song you’ll hear playing on the radio when you go back to a local bar when visiting your childhood hometown. And as soon as it comes on, everyone in the place is singing along arm in arm.
This country classic is a love letter to Appalachia, one of the most underrated parts of the USA. Denver sings of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and the nostalgia for his home in West Virginia. Even if you’ve never been anywhere near Appalachia, you’ll still feel Denver’s homesickness in the best way.
13. America the Beautiful – Ray Charles
America the Beautiful is one of the oldest and most beloved songs about America. It was originally written in the late 1800s as a church song by Kathy Lee Bates. There have been countless covers over the years, but none more beautiful or beloved than Ray Charles’s.
Ray Charles is otherwise known as “The Genius” and is one of the greatest musicians and piano players of all time, revolutionalizing the jazz age. His cover of the song is both smooth and smokey. His voice truly captures the beauty of the song and its hopeful message.
14. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Here’s another song that’s about only one state but still manages to encapsulate the feeling of America as a whole. The band Lynyrd Skynyrd is as American as it gets, and their music combines all the best of rock n’ roll and country.
Their most famous song is romantic and fun, painting a picture of the romantic blue skies and long, sunny days that Alabama is known for. This is the perfect song to scream along to in the car on a road trip, combining two quintessential American past times.
15. America – Neil Diamond
America is one of Neil Diamond’s most beloved songs both for his impressive vocals and meaningful lyrics. Diamond wrote the song as part of the soundtrack for his movie The Jazz Singer, and it is one of his most requested songs at concerts.
The song tells a positive story of immigrants coming to America in search of a better life. The song is both powerful and hopeful and has been used everywhere from TV shows to presidential campaigns.
16. God Bless the U.S.A – Lee Greenwood
This 1984 track by Lee Greenwald has remained consistently beloved and popular since it came out. It gained a new appreciation and love after the tragic September 11 terrorist attacks, when it became an anthem of America’s resilience and togetherness during strife.
The song speaks of what happens when things are tough when tragedy strikes, and everything goes wrong. Greenwald sings of people all across the country feeling proud to be American despite everything happening because their country is the land of the free.
17. R.O.C.K in the U.S.A – John Mellencamp
John Mellencamp is one of the most down-to-earth American rock musicians and often wrote emotional songs exploring the darker and sadder sides of American life. He almost didn’t include this song, subtitled “A Salute to 60s Rock” on his album because it was too upbeat. But fans are glad he did because it is a classic.
The song is a tribute to past and present American rock and roll legends. He sings of the trials and tribulations artists go through to make their music in America, where they come from, and where they go to create art.
18. Color Me America – Dolly Parton
There are very few Americans more beloved than Dolly Parton. The queen of Tennessee has been charming the hearts of Americans all over the country for decades, and this song is her love letter to the country that loves her.
In this song, Parton sings of the best and worst her country has to offer but with a loving message. She sings of pain at seeing others hurt and how proud she is of a country that works to help people. Ultimately, this song is about what it means to be a true American striving for peace.
19. Kids in America – The Muffs
This song was originally written and recorded by British singer Kim Wilde and was a smash hit in Europe. The original was and will always be a classic in its own right, but The Muff’s version is the one most Americans will recognize today.
Their version is more rock-focused and emblematic of the 90s in the best way. It rose to fame when it was featured in the opening scene of the cult-classic Clueless. The song is both upbeat and filled with angst, portraying the ultimate teenage experience of ennui that anyone can get down to.
20. American Idiot – Green Day
Green Day is one of the best and most successful punk rock bands of all time and re-invented the West Coast grunge scene in the 1990s. They have many classic hits that exemplify what it means to be American, but none more popular than “American Idiot.”
This is their first song on the album of the same name. The entire album is a genius rock opera that tells the story of a relatable anti-hero and talks about everything from the Iraq war to country living. For any teenager growing up at the turn of the century, nothing is more American than this song.
21. This is America – Childish Gambino
This impactful and groundbreaking song by Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) does not look favorably on the USA. Nevertheless, it is an incredibly important song for any patriot who appreciates protest art.
Glover wrote the powerful song in response to the rise in mass shootings in the country. The song comments on gun violence as a whole, as well as how it connects to race. The accompanying music video made headlines with its jarring messaging. Although many people might not enjoy this track, lamenting injustice through music is just as American as celebrating the stars and stripes. This is an important and powerful song that will help define a generation.
22. American Woman – Guess Who
This is another quintessentially American song that happens to be sung by non-Americans. The Canadian band Guess Who sings a humorous yet risky song about the dangers of the ever-sought after American woman. The song was an instant hit in the USA and became even more popular when it was covered years later by Lenny Kravitz.
The most amazing thing about the song is that the entire thing was improvised on stage by the band during a concert in Ontario. The on-the-fly nature of the lyrics made some people assume it was a political critique of the USA. However, the band has maintained that the song is just about the enigmatic American female.
23. Sufin’ USA – The Beach Boys
This is one of the most recognizable Beach Boys songs, and every American will sing along to its simple and timeless lyrics. The Beach Boys are personified in this song that will make you want to head to the ocean as soon as you hear it.
The Beach Boys are one of America’s most iconic bands, and this song from their early days combines Brian Wilson’s lyrics to music from Chuck Berry’s song “Sweet Little Sixteen.” The influence from one of America’s music legends is hard to miss.
24. American Baby – Dave Matthews Band
Dave Matthews is one of the most innovative singer-songwriters in the country and has been captivating audiences with his band for decades. Although he was born in South Africa and moved around during his life, it was in America that he chose to start making music.
The song American Baby is romantic and haunting–indicative of Matthews’ style and artistry. He sings of a beautiful love that transcends time. Listeners will truly feel the love the artist has for his American Baby and want to sing along about the experience.