Let’s make one thing clear right up front. This is not your typical list of patriotic songs. Hardly.
Each song on this list, while not a military song, was chosen because it expresses something honest about the troops. Their heart. Their grit. Their toughness. Their tenderness. The lives they lead that ordinary mortals can never imagine.
These are songs for the troops, about the troops. These are the songs that speak to them. The songs that inspired them to enlist. The songs that remind them to re-up. The songs that get them revved up. The songs they sing. The songs they live. The songs they love. Not military songs, but hopefully they will love them.
“THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER” – TED NUGENT
We were torn. Do we include the Jimmy Hendrix instrumental version or the Ted Nugent version. Let’s see, Ted’s a patriot and Jimi was a screwed up liberal drug addict. Let’s go with Ted.
“AWAKE” – GODSMACK
Used by the U.S. Navy in its recruiting commercials for three years. The band has a reputation for being pro-Bush and pro-military, which confuses the hell out of some of its fans. Good for Godsmack.
“I WON’T BACK DOWN” – JOHNNY CASH
We’re glad there are guys (and gals) with the guts to do the really difficult things that need to be done out there. We don’t have the guts to do it and we thank God every day that they won’t back down. This is Johnny Cash’s military tribute cover of the original Tom Petty song.
“RED, WHITE AND BLUE” – LYNYRD SKYNYRD
Lynyrd Skynyrd is the prototypical Southern rock band. They bleed red, white and blue. We love the lyrics in this song and think they must express perfectly how a lot of military vets feel:
My hair’s turning white,
my neck’s always been red,
my collar’s still blue,
we’ve always been here
just trying to sing the truth to you.
Yes you could say
we’ve always been,
Red, White, and Blue
“I RAQ AND ROLL” – CLINT BLACK
Here’s Clint Black’s country anthem for the guys over there in that other country:
I-raq, I rack ’em up and I roll,
I’m back and I’m a hi-tech GI Joe.
I pray for peace, prepare for war
and I never will forget ~
there’s no price too high for freedom
so be careful where you tread.
“AMERICAN SOLDIER” – TOBY KEITH
Here is Toby Keith’s American Soldier. If this song doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you’re a cold, heartless son of a bitch. It expresses all the anguish, all the pain, all the hope, all the love of country that none of us can possibly understand. Thanks, guys. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate everything you do for all of us here at home.
“DON’T TREAD ON ME” – DAMN YANKEES
Ted Nugent, the Motor City Madman, spent a couple years in a supergroup called Damn Yankees. We doubt that the Founding Fathers ever imagined the phrase “Don’t Tread On Me” would be interpreted quite like Ted and the boys do it. WARNING: As always, Ted’s heart’s in the right place, but you might not appreciate his vocabulary.
“THESE COLORS DON’T RUN” – IRON MAIDEN
If you’re not a heavy metal fan, you may be surprised to find out how much those long-haired headbangers support America and her troops. Tell it like it is, Iron Maiden.
Far away from the land of our birth
We fly a flag in some foreign earth
We sailed away like our fathers before
These colors don’t run from a cold, bloody war
“LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR” – DROWNING POOL COVER OF EMINEM’S SONG
This song has absolutely nothing to do with the military nor Iraq nor Afghanistan. We’ve included it because it’s a boot camp/basic training favorite played over and over again while recruits are doing push-ups. “Drop and give me 50, soldier,” the drill sergeant growled.
“V.O.A.” – SAMMY HAGAR
Nobody combines kick ass rock and roll with right wing screeds quite like Sammy Hagar.
You in the Middle East, be on your toes
We’re bound to strike, everybody knows
Just tell your friends, the USSR
We’re gonna, we’re gonna crash that party
‘Cause they’ve gone to far
“WE’RE AN AMERICAN BAND” – GRAND FUNK RAILROAD
The thing we love about art is that its meaning is open to interpretation. We know this song is about wild rock ‘n roll debauchery, but it seems to us that the guys in Iraq must often feel as if they’re an american band. A band of brothers, so to speak.
“ROCK THE CASBAH” – THE CLASH
Like we said, the thing we love about art is that its meaning is open to interpretation. And that interpretation can be colored by the times. The guys in The Clash were committed radical leftists. So it must annoy the hell out of them to know that Rock The Casbah has become one of the most requested songs on the radio among American and British forces in Iraq.
“IN THE NAVY” – VILLAGE PEOPLE
We’re prepared to catch flak for this selection. Too humorous, too gay, too whatever. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is a hot subject these days, but we’re pretty sure no one would have had to ask about the Village People.
4. “DANGER ZONE” – KENNY LOGGINS
Off the soundtrack for “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise. Does that make it fall under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” regulations? Seems to us that everything our troops do is in the the Danger Zone. We’re not afraid to admit that we’re not men enough to do what they do. Thanks, guys.
“SOLDIER BOY” – THE SHIRELLES
Let’s end by going back to the early days of rock and roll. We send these guys overseas to fight for us and risk their lives. How many of them leave a special girl at home and think about her every day. You know that each of them is tormented by one question does she still love me?