Music has played a large role in history. During wartime, it could boost the morale of both soldiers and civilians. When there were economic struggles or pandemics, it could give individuals hope and peace that brighter days were ahead, and that Americans had the fortitude to withstand such trials. I’ve always loved music, but in recent years, especially music of the patriotic variety. So are you ready to get into the patriotic spirit with some tunes that span the eras–from the 18th century to now? If so, check out my patriotic playlist below!
Please note: The Tri-State Genealogical Society (TSGS) does not own the rights to any of the songs listed.
- “Yankee Doodle” – One of the oldest, if not the oldest, patriotic tunes is “Yankee Doodle.” While there are tons of versions available, this song version even includes historical American War for Independence images.
- “The Star-Spangled Banner” – Not only is “The Star-Spangled Banner” America’s national anthem, it’s just an amazing patriotic song! There are countless versions online, but this version includes lyrics and images.
- “Battle Cry of Freedom” – The American Civil War produced many rousing patriotic songs. One of my personal favorites is “Battle Cry of Freedom,” and it can be found on the American Battlefield Trusts’ website.
- “Battle Hymn of the Republic” – Written by Julia Ward Howe, the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” is an inspirational song–with Christian elements–that truly spans the eras. Check out this version by The United States Army Field Band.
- “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” – This song, though a Civil War-era tune, could easily commemorate any era where individuals were headed to war. There are many versions of the song, though the American Battlefield Trust provides a version with lyrics as well.
- “Marching Through Georgia” – Although the Civil War era ushered in many of America’s well-loved songs, there are lesser-known Civil War songs, too! Tennessee Ernie Ford sang some of my favorite Civil War songs, like “Marching Through Georgia.”
- “The Army of the Free” – Even though I love tons of historical music, “The Army of the Free” is easily one of my favorites! Whenever I need to boost my patriotic morale, I almost always head to this song in my playlist.
- “The Why and the Wherefore” – Civil War soldiers enlisted for a slew of reasons, and the “The Why and the Wherefore” demonstrates this. This Tennessee Ernie Ford version is my personal favorite.
- “Virginia’s Bloody Soil” – Many Civil War battles took place in Virginia, so it makes sense that a song commemorates the sacrifice of those who lost their life in the state. “Virginia’s Bloody Soil” effectively memorializes those who gave their all in Virginia.
- “The Vacant Chair” – While “The Vacant Chair” is a sad Civil War song, it’s also a true one. After around 620,000 lives were lost in the conflict, there were many vacant chairs across America.
- “The Fall of Charleston” – Unlike some Civil War songs, “The Fall of Charleston” is both upbeat and fun, making this a great tune to listen to–any time of year!
- “The New York Volunteer” – Even if your family didn’t serve in New York, “The New York Volunteer” is a great Civil War song. For fun, I’ll sometimes change up the lyrics as I sing along to commemorate the service of my ancestors, like “the Kentucky volunteer.”
- “Just Before the Battle, Mother” – This is perhaps one of the best-known Civil War songs. “Just Before the Battle, Mother” perfectly illustrates the angst and apprehension that soldiers of the 1860s–hundreds or thousands of miles from home–would have experienced.
- “Union Dixie” – Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Union Dixie” is a fantastic spin on the Civil War song, “Dixie.” So when you’re in the mood to hear “Dixie,” but want a Northern twist on the tune, give “Union Dixie” a try!
- “The Girl I Left Behind Me” – Like many Civil War tunes, “The Girl I Left Behind Me” is a classic song that would easily be beloved by soldiers, even those who fought on opposite sides in the conflict.
- “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” – Performed by The Andrews Sisters, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” is an upbeat song from World War II. When I’m looking for a song from the World War II-era, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” is a go-to in my playlist!
- “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” – This song is easily one of my favorites from the World War II-era! “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” is not only upbeat with lyrics that can still ring true today, it is also historical–a win-win!
- “The Old Man / Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army” – I first heard this song when I watched the movie “White Christmas” a couple of years ago. Since then, I’ve added “The Old Man / Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army” to my music playlist.
- “The Battle of New Orleans” – Johnny Horton’s “The Battle of New Orleans” commemorates the War of 1812 battle. While it was written well after the actual battle, it’s still a fun, upbeat patriotic song.
- “Ragged Old Flag” – Even though past eras introduced tons of new patriotic music, there has been new patriotic tunes produced in the last several decades, too. “Ragged Old Flag,” by Johnny Cash, commemorates past eras while also discussing the role of our American flag in modern times.
- “The Fightin’ Side of Me” – Released in 1970, a time of political turmoil because of the Vietnam War, Merle Haggard’s “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” remains relevant, even in today’s times.
- “God Bless the USA” – This song is perhaps one of the most well-known patriotic songs produced in modern times. I love listening to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA,” whether it’s July 4th or December 4th!
- “More Than a Name on a Wall” – Sung by the Statler Brothers, “More Than a Name on a Wall” is a true, albeit sad, tune about America’s servicemembers who perished in the line of duty and the sadness experienced by those who mourn their departure from Earth.
- “Some Gave All” – Performed by Billy Ray Cyrus, this song is a good reminder that, even though all soldiers give some, some soldiers give their all. As a descendant of soldiers who have perished in war, I appreciate the message of “Some Gave All.”
- “Only in America” – America is a land of so much promise that encourages individuals–who have the same basic opportunities–to dream large. “Only in America”, by Brooks & Dunn, is not only a true song, it has great lyrics and a catchy beat!
- “Riding with Private Malone” – I first heard this song several months ago, and the moving lyrics brought me to tears. “Riding with Private Malone” illustrates that soldiers from past decades had dreams, even if some, due to them sacrificing their life for their nation, could unfortunately never come to fruition.
- “American Soldier” – As a historian, I think it’s important to honor the service of all veterans, whether they served in the 1700s or today…and any era in-between. “American Soldier,” by Toby Keith, honors the service and sacrifice of all United States veterans.
- “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly” – I had the opportunity to attend an Aaron Tippin concert, and, when this song was performed, my patriotic morale (like many attendees, I’m sure) was definitely boosted. “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly” is one of my favorite patriotic tunes.
I hope you’ve enjoyed perusing through my patriotic playlist! Maybe you also found some songs that you weren’t familiar with but that will become favorites of yours, too. Whether it’s a holiday that celebrates America and our country’s courageous veterans or just an “average” day, may we always remember the sacrifice that service members have made, are making, and subsequent generations will continue to make.
Keep the history alive!