In America

Charlie Daniels, 1980

Why did he sing "bet you never did think that we'd ever get together again"? What issues divided the United States in the 1960s and 1970s? Vietnam War, race tensions, feminism.

What does he mean by "the eagle's flyin' slow" and "the flag's flyin' low"? Americans had lost their pride in their country. Why were so many Americans discouraged? "Losing" a war most didn't think we should have fought; Watergate scandals.

What event brought Americans back together in 1980? Iran Hostage Crisis. What happened? US Embassy in Iran was captured and its staff held hostage. Why did that bring people back together? Thinking of themselves as Americans. What other events have had this effect? Pearl Harbor, 2001 terrorist attacks.

How long did the Iran Hostage Crisis last? How did it finally end? In the end, did the crisis make people feel better or worse about the United States? Worse, because it took so long to solve and we failed a rescue attempt.

Can you identify with the lines "we may have done a little bit of fighting amongst ourselves, but you outside people best leave us alone"? When have you experienced something like that with your family? Bully picks on the sister you fight with all the time; friend says something bad about your parents about whom you always complain, etc. What happens when people are attacked from the outside? Why does that draw people together? They realize survival could be threatened; get priorities straight.

Is this still a good song for today? Why? What parts sound out of step with today?What still holds true?

"In America" performed by the Charlie Daniels Band on A Decade of Hits, New York: Epic [EK 38795], © 1983. Available on iTunes.


For more information on the Charlie Daniels Band, visit their official website.

The official video of their Post 9-11 performance may be viewed on YouTube.

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In America single cover
Album cover for "In America."

Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, Charlie Daniels (1936–2020) is known for his diverse musical style, which was influenced by gospel, bluegrass, rhythm and blues, rock, and country. After graduating from high school in 1955, he formed a rock and roll band. While on their way to California, the group stopped to record an instrumental piece that was picked up by Epic Records, launching Daniels's career.

Daniels moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to work as a session guitarist. There he played on albums with such artists as Bob Dylan and the Youngbloods. This interaction with different styles contributed to Daniels's distinctive sound. In 1973 his band released its first album and first hits, including the hippie song "Uneasy Rider" and the rebel anthem "The South's Gonna Do It." Daniels went on to win numerous awards and produced several classics, including his well-known "folk tales" "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and "The Legend of Wooley Swamp." Daniels is also known for his fiddling, which spices up many of his songs.

"In America," written during the Iran Hostage Crisis, is representative of Daniels's "telling it like it is" spirit. He muses about the challenges that confronted Americans in the 1960s and 1970s. Without directly mentioning the Hostage Crisis, he takes pride in how Americans were responding to it by coming together, which he sees as a source of national strength.




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