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Which songs should be on the ultimate Independence Day playlist?

Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." is among the 45 tunes on Rhapsody's special Fourth of July playlist. (Columbia Records image)

You think it’s hard coming up with a playlist for a handful of family and friends for your Fourth of July picnic? Try coming up with one for millions of people. That’s the challenge Linda Ryan faced as she contemplated her picks for Rhapsody’s annual Fourth of July playlist.

Ryan and her editorial team at the Seattle-based music service chose 45 tunes that best capture the spirit of Independence Day. But with all the fireworks that can come with such a patriotic and politically charged occasion, Ryan says they decided this year to go for a feeling rather than make a statement or try to balance points of view.

“So many times with Fourth of July playlists either the playlist gets dominated with songs from the right or the left that sort of espouses whatever political view they want to get across,” the long time programmer and music writer tells Seattle Sounds.

“At this time I think Americans are really tired of the politics behind politics and we just wanted to pick the majority of songs that just celebrate Americana.”

The playlist accomplishes exactly that. It includes plenty of iconic songs befitting the holiday like Don McLean’s “American Pie”, Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World”, John Cougar Mellancamp’s “R.O.C.K in the USA” and Tom Petty’s “American Girl.”

But the list also features plenty of songs without an obvious tie to the holiday, capturing the “the feeling of a small town dusty road or good times by the lake,” Ryan says.

That’s why you’ll find The Lumineers “Ho Hey” and Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” alongside Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert’s stirring rendition of “America the Beautiful” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”.

“I envision people listening to this playlist while having family barbecues,” she says.

If she could only pick a handful of songs on the list, Ryan would go with the aforementioned “America the Beautiful”, “Fourth of July” by seminal LA punk band X, “Chicken Fried” by the Zach Brown Band and “An American Dream” from the Nitty Gritty Dirty Band (yes, her country bias betrays her throughout the list.)

As for me, the X song is far and away my favorite song for the holiday. And after reviewing the list, I’d have to go with Tom Petty’s “American Girl”, “American Pie” and “Rockin’ in the Free World”.

And even though it’s a bit cheesy, what’s the Fourth of July without a “Firework,” courtesy Katy Perry?

What would be on your ultimate Fourth of July Playlist?

You can hear more of our conversation about Rhapsody’s Fourth of July playlist with Sr. Programmer Linda Ryan on a special edition of Seattle Sounds Saturday night at 7 p.m. on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM or on-demand.

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