The "America" Songs

August 18, 2005

When MTV2 first hit the air, they showed nothing but videos. You know, just like the original MTV, but almost 20 years later.

For one of their early years, they started playing all of the videos in the MTV library in alphabetical order by song. They started at the turn of the new year, and the drill lasted all the way into May.

That made for a fun game. Guess what the next song would be, and wait around to see how many in-between songs that you had totally forgotten. It would often be dozens. It was also interesting to see how many versions of a particular song they had. And, of course, there was lots and lots and lots of crap that you never heard of in the first place.


This year, I started playing the songs on my ipod alphabetically. Not every time I listen, but every time that I can't decide what to listen to, I just pick up where I left off on the list. I've worked through all of the songs that start with punctuation or numbers, and I'm well into the A's. That doesn't seem like much, but it's a couple hundred songs in.

I notice that there are some trends: songs that start with an apostrophe or parentheses are more likely to be jazz or swing. There are seventeen songs that start with "Ain't," and almost all of them are 60s R&B. There are six totally different songs called "Angel" and six more that start with "Angel" and are then followed by more words.

Interesting, huh?

It's going to be a rough month when I get to the section where songs start with "Cowboy."

But I digress.

Yesterday, I got to the songs that start with the words "America" or "American." I was expecting some pretty cheesy country music in that stretch, but look what I got:

Neil Diamond's "America":

There's the cheese I expected, but you can't help but like this one. After this, I got a handful of fairly lame songs from Yes, Morrissey, the Cult, and Garth Brooks.

Green Day's "American Idiot:"

I've been playing it for almost a year, and I'm not tired of it yet.

The Violent Femmes "American Music":

This is a fantastic song. Just great. I listened to it three times back to back before moving on to....

A whole collection of "American Pie" versions.

It wasn't a surprise to have multiple versions of this one. I remember when the Madonna remake came out listening to Mrs. theskinnyonbenny argue with one of her friends about whether it was any good.

Mrs. theskinnyonbenny is a big fan of Madonna and liked the song.

The friend was one of those with some level of disgust for a modern update of a rock and roll classic. "She probably doesn't even know what that song is about," she claimed.

"Yeah. She probably thinks it's about pie." (That was my only contribution to the conversation.)

But what really caught my attention and made this whole thing blogworthy, was this version. I don't remember hearing this before, and it definitely caught me by surprise. It's a cover by the Brady Bunch, and to save you the pain of trying to find the version for yourself, I've made it so you can play the tune for yourself right here. You'll have to find this song somewhere else. Your browser won't allow embedded media. Sorry.

I don't really have anything that I can add that would make this funnier than it is all by itself.