In honor of July 4th: “July 4th” by Dave Alvin

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Dave Alvin with David Hidalgo & Flaco Jimenez, “July 4th”

Happy July 4th – AKA Independence Day – to all Americans here, there and everywhere, and to anyone who wants to come to this holiday.

As with every holiday – and every human event – there are many songs about the 4th of July. Some of them are expressions of pure praise for this sweet land of freedom; many others are not.

But how pure and patriotic a song is to us matters less than the answer to the crucial question: is it a good song? Do you want to hear it? And then hear it again?

Last year we posted a 4th of July story about the most popular songs for this holiday. Ray Charles’ “America The Beautiful” is at or near the top of this list every year. Over the past couple of years, a relatively new song has climbed to the top: “Party In The USA”, the 2009 hit for Miley Cyrus written primarily by Dr, Luke and with additional lyrics by Jessie J and Claude Kelly,

This year, instead of repeating ourselves, we decided not to focus on several, but on one great July 4th song. Of these, the one that personally stands out and moves me every time I hear it is Dave Alvin’s great 1987 song “4th of July” from his album Romeo’s escape.

This studio version is wonderful, as are many live versions he has made. But of it all, the biggest and most exhilarating version is this live version from February 16, 2017. The event was a benefit for the Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy at the home of Robert Mailer Anderson and Nicola Miner in San Francisco .

It’s the band that performed with him that night that really sets this version apart and inspired such a joyful version of that sad song. Alvin had legends on both sides as he played: on the accordion was the great virtuoso Norteno / Tejano Flaco Jimenez. And on guitar and harmonies was the monumental David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, one of the greatest singers and musicians of all time.

Pete Sears, Max Baca and Los Cenzontles were also in his group that night.

The moment Hidalgo first sings harmony with Dave Alvin on the magnificent chorus is precious, as it inspires a flash of real-time pure joy on Alvin’s face. Check it out.

The song was originally recorded by X – with two lead roles by John Doe and Exene – before Dave Alvin recorded it himself.

Enjoy. We wish you all a happy and healthy vacation.

Dave Alvin to perform live at Gray Eagle in Asheville, NC - Entertainment - GoUpstate - Spartanburg, SC
Dave alvin

4th July
By Dave Alvin

She’s waiting for me when I come home from work
But things are not the same
She turns off the light and cries in the dark
Don’t answer when I call her name

(Chorus)
On the stairs I smoke a cigarette alone
Mexican children shoot fireworks from below
Hey baby it’s July 4th
Hey baby it’s July 4th

She gives me her cheek when I want her lips
And I don’t have the strength to go
On the lost side of town in a dark apartment
We gave up trying so long ago

Whatever happened, I apologize
So dry your tears and baby, walk outside
It’s July 4th


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