10 American Anthems That Tell It Like It Is

Captain America, Marvel's newest superhero movie, comes out today. We'll pause until the excitement passes.


Rocks Off likes Captain America. The three comic books we read with any regularity as a scupper were Cap, Batman (Detective Comics), and Spider-Man. But we love America, as in the "United States of." The land of our birth, where we choose to live, work, and raise our family. At least until Our visa application to Tahiti clears.

But as with any relationship, there are disagreements. We often find ourselves at odds with our government over trifling matters like, oh, whether or not Willie Nelson's birthday should be a holiday, or how much money it likes to spend on blowing shit up rather than feeding and caring for its citizens.

In honor of this tough love - and the release of Captain America; check it out, his pecs are the bomb - here's a list of songs about our great nation that recognize sometimes she ain't always so great.

Iris DeMent, "Wasteland of the Free"

Lyrics like "We kill for oil and throw a party when we win" and "We've got CEOs making 200 the workers' pay/ But they'll fight like hell against raising the minimum wage" are - apart from being quite a mouthful - quite an indictment of Republican policies by the famously leftist DeMent. Or would be, if the song hadn't been released during the Clinton Administration. Consider your minds blown.

Find It: The Way I Should, 1996

James McMurtry, "We Can't Make It Here"

Like most of us, McMurtry is just getting more pissed off as he gets older. Here, it's against the "men who sent the jobs away" and the CEOs he encourages to try living on the salaries their laborers make. Rarely has hating corporate executives been more fashionable.

Find It: Childish Things, 2005

Bob Dylan, "With God On Our Side"

Does anybody openly invoke the will of the Almighty when calling for "strategic air strikes" anymore? Probably not in a press conference, anyway.

Find It: The Times They Are A-Changin', 1965

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Bruce Springsteen, "The Ghost of Tom Joad"

When Rocks Off was younger, we used to fantasize about living in a post-apocalyptic world like that on display in Mad Max, one of our favorite movies. However, according to the title cut from Springsteen's 1995 album, economic collapse isn't all V-8 Interceptors and motorcycle chases. Thanks a pantload, Boss.

Find It: The Ghost of Tom Joad, 1995

The Guess Who, "American Woman"

Those Canadians, always wary of the creeping cultural influence of their neighbors to the south. It's a great song, though, so accept no substitutes. Not that shitty Lenny Kravitz cover, and don't even get us started on that fucking Jeep commercial.

Find It: American Woman, 1970

Rage Against the Machine, "Bulls on Parade"

Rocks Off was in grad school when RAtM were hitting their stride, and we never ceased to be amused at the number of business fraternity dudes who absolutely looooved Rage. It was reminiscent of Nirvana in the early '90s.

Find It: Evil Empire, 1996

Megadeth, "Peace Sells"


Find It: Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?, 1986

R.E.M. "Ignoreland"

Has it really been three years since R.E.M. went on tour? Has it really been 20 years since we've seen them? That's a pity, because Stipe and company can still crank out the vitriol (in Accelerate, especially) like in this anti-Reagan cut from 1992's Automatic for the People.

Find It: Automatic for the People, 1992

Public Enemy, "By the Time I Get to Arizona"

This song chastising The Copper State was given new relevance with the passage of SB 1070, the most severe anti-illegal immigration law passed in the U.S. to date. Chuck D, as you can imagine, had some choice words about that.

Find It: Apocalypse '91...The Enemy Strikes Black, 1991

Dead Kennedys, "Stars and Stripes of Corruption"

True, it's probably hard to win people over to your side when your song opens with the narrator taking a piss on the Washington Monument, but Jello Biafra's heart is in the right place: "We can start/ By not lying so much/ And treating other people like dirt." Sage advice, even from a guy named "Jello."

Find It: Frankenchrist, 1985

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