JUNE 29, 2009
How Does America Sound?
7 Quintessentially American Music Videos
1) Johnny Cash--"God's Gonna Cut You Down"
Johnny Cash is an American legend. He represents everything from country outlaw to stately godfather of American music. This posthumous video is a Grammy-winning tribute featuring an epic cast of celebrities that includes Keith Richards, Johnny Depp, Owen Wilson, Kanye West, Sheryl Crow, and many more.
2) Ozomatli--"Can't Stop"
American culture has benefited throughout history from a continuous influx of immigrants who challenge and expand the concept of "traditional American." Ozomatli is one of the best examples of an American group built on the sounds of different cultures mixed together. The Los Angeles based band boasts influences from urban Latino, hip-hop, salsa, cumbia, merengue, samba, funk, reggae, and the list goes on! They're a compelling reminder that what makes the United States a fertile artistic ground is acceptance of differences.
3) Geo Sessions: Blind Boys of Alabama
Last fall we had the honor of hosting a concert with Grammy-winning gospel group Blind Boys of Alabama featuring the legendary Preservation Jazz Hall Band from New Orleans. People were dancing in the aisles of National Geographic's main auditorium to the sounds of gospel, soul, funk, and New Orleans jazz. We filmed the show for the Nat Geo Music television channel in Europe and Latin America, but you can watch the whole thing here.
4) Bruce Springsteen--"Girls in Their Summer Clothes"
With hits like "Born In The U.S.A.," "Thunder Road," and "Glory Days," Bruce Springsteen, a.k.a. "the Boss", embodies the American spirit of the underdog. In his songs Springsteen celebrates working-class heroes, stories often inspired by his experience growing up in New Jersey. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 he offered one of the most prominent artistic responses to the nation's grieving with his album The Rising. "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" was released in 2008 and takes the singer back to his folk-rock roots.
5) Old Crow Medicine Show--"I Hear Them All"
Old Crow Medicine Show has reinvigorated traditional Appalachian music with youthful energy, turning bluegrass and country into something New York hipsters sing along to without irony at the band's concerts. To add another layer of American-ness to this video the band filmed in one of the neighborhoods in New Orleans hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a tribute to the city's indelible influence on American music.
6) Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings--"100 Days, 100 Nights"
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings represent one of the most successful groups reviving classic American soul music. A singer for many years, Sharon Jones also had to work other jobs in the past, including a stint as a corrections officer at New York's Rikers Island prison. When you see her on stage you understand how she would have been effective at keeping hardened criminals in order. Complementing their analogue sound, the band filmed this video with vintage television cameras from the 1950s.
7) Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins--"Rise Up With Fists"
Jenny Lewis is a darling of the indie rock world who received critical success with her 2006 album Rabbit Fur Coat, featuring Kentucky-born singing duo The Watson Twins and new folk sounds inspired by Americana music.