10 Awesome Songs About the American Dream

Bruce Springsteen

The American Dream can be difficult to describe. However, one of the more common definitions is the aspiration for every American to enjoy equality of opportunity, which is very different from equality of outcome. Regardless, the American Dream is powerful, as shown by its effects worldwide. Still, interested individuals should know that its music commentary exhibits a remarkable range of opinions.

Here is our opinion on ten of the best songs about the American Dream:

10. “21st Century Breakdown” – Green Day

There is a long tradition of American artists criticizing the American Dream. Green Day released “21st Century Breakdown” as the title track of the studio album of the same name in 2009. The song reflects the frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s life experiences. That said, his yearning for meaning amidst a sea of uncertainty is far from limited to him, which explains why “21st Century Breakdown” connected with listeners.

9. “People Have the Power” – Patti Smith

The core of the American Dream is embedded in an entire system of related ideas and ideals. One example is the belief that Americans can change the world by coming together. Patti Smith’s “People Have the Power” remains one of the best expressions of this belief in musical form.

8. “America” – Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond’s “America” is a wholehearted celebration of the country’s ability to attract immigrants through its reputation as a land of opportunity. The man has some secondhand understanding of the matter. After all, Diamond’s maternal grandparents were Russian Jewish immigrants, while his paternal grandparents were Polish Jewish immigrants. The United States saw a wave of Eastern European Jewish immigration during the late 19th and early 20th centuries because of pogroms. Sadly, there was a nativist backlash that placed restrictions on these groups during the 1920s, which remained in place until the Immigration Act of 1965.

7. “Rockin’ in the Free World” – Neil Young

“Rockin’ in the Free World” is one of those songs embraced as straightforward celebrations of the United States despite their somewhat mixed view of things. As the story goes, Neil Young wrote the song after learning that a planned tour in the Soviet Union wouldn’t be happening, which prompted his guitarist Frank Sampedro to quip that they’d have to “keep on rockin’ in the free world.” The song mentions other issues that were happening in the world around that time. However, Young also jabbed at then-U.S. president George H.W. Bush, as shown by the mention of “a thousand points of light for the homeless man.”

6. “This Is America” – Childish Gambino

Donald Glover’s “This Is America” is rich in sociopolitical commentary. It touches upon race, violence, and entertainment in ways that have been much-analyzed by an audience primed for such discussions. If interested individuals want the full effect, they need to check out the music video for the song because the two were very much meant to go together.

5. “Breakfast in America” – Supertramp

The power of the American media magnifies the power of the American Dream. After all, it is so influential that it can drown out its competitors, which has a real effect on how consumers see the world. “Breakfast in America” is one of the funnier reminders of this process in action. For those unfamiliar, Supertramp was a British band most prominent in the 1970s and 1980s. As such, “Breakfast in America” makes more sense when one realizes that the narrator is a young British man who dreams of making it big in the United States even though he has a skewed, TV-derived understanding of the country.

4. “Empire State of Mind” – Jay-Z Featuring Alicia Keys

Of course, some parts of the United States stand out more in the popular imagination than others. For instance, New York City holds a commanding position through its enormous influence in every sphere. Numerous songs celebrate the city. “Empire State of Mind” is one in a long line.

3. “America” – Simon & Garfunkel

“America” sees a pair of young lovers heading out to look for the titular idea. There is a progression from initial exuberance to exhausted hollowness, which has prompted much discussion over the song’s meaning. Some people have more literal takes, which is why they often point to Simon & Garfunkel’s real-world relationships. In contrast, others see the song as being about the American Dream. For them, the song’s change of tone reflects how dreams are nothing but dreams in reality.

2. “Born in the U.S.A.” – Bruce Springsteen

As mentioned earlier, numerous songs have more complicated messages about the United States than people would expect based on how they’re used. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” is another excellent example. It is often used as a patriotic song because of its name. The funny thing is that the song is about the challenges experienced by Vietnam War veterans. Something that was meant to be compared and contrasted with the glorification of the U.S. military. Still, some would argue the willingness to take a stand is a part of the American Dream as much as anything else.

1. “This Land Is Your Land” – Woody Guthrie

“This Land Is Your Land” is one of the all-time greats. For proof, look no further than the hundreds of places where the song has shown up, which speaks volumes about its incredible reach. As a result, “This Land Is Your Land” has more than one set of lyrics, thus making it well-suited for a wider range of occasions than otherwise possible. Many people have adopted “This Land Is Your Land” as an affirmation of their American identity, so it isn’t hard to see why it is connected to the idea of the American Dream.

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