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Is This the Most “American” July 4th Playlist of All Time?

4 Jul

Photo credit: Stephanie McCabe / Unsplash

You don’t need a reason to make a playlist, but a holiday sure does provide a good one.

And today, on July 4th, one of my favorite days of the year, I like listening to one of my favorite Spotify playlists. Like my summertime mix, it’s a collection of songs all built around a theme — in this case, the word “America.” All included songs feature some use of the word America (or a variation of it) in a prominent way — which is why John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses” qualifies, but, say, “Horse with No Name,” by the band America, does not. Bruce Springsteen’s “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” may be an exception to that rule, but come on. How could I not include it?

And, because it’s a mix for the Fourth of July, there are a few patriotic or July 4th or “Independence Day”–themed or related songs (like Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park” and Katy Perry’s “Firework,” natch) thrown in too. Yes, there are even some songs, like Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” that sound patriotic, but really aren’t.

I call this playlist, no surprise, American Tunes. Continue reading

Chicago, I Love You

5 Jul

It’s official: I love Chicago.

I mean, I love Boston a little bit more.

But in a head to head competition, these days I may have a tough time picking between the two cities.

If I ever left Boston for good (and I have no plans to do that), I’d make a beeline to Chicago. That’s just how I feel after a fantastic long (and yet still too short) weekend in the Windy City.

It was my annual July 4 trip to Chicago, which means I also spent time in Michigan City, Indiana. Combined, it was just awesome. Continue reading

4th of July Pops Concert Could Be Better

5 Jul

Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy few things more than watching the Boston Pops and the fireworks on July 4th.

Which is why it’s a shame that I hadn’t been down to the Charles in so long to see it live. Last night I corrected that, and got a chance to introduce my friends Justine and Nick to the awesomeness as well.

Seriously, no city in America (as if the “in America” part really needs to be said) does July 4th festivities like Boston does.


I’ve seen the New York fireworks. They’re big, but that’s all they are. And they don’t have the Pops.

So there.

But here’s the thing: While I love the fact that the whole country gets to watch some of the show, I do think the national broadcast is what’s wrong with July 4th in Boston. Continue reading

Summer in Michigan City

6 Jul

Growing up in suburban New York, I never thought that one day I’d get really excited about spending July 4 in Michigan City, Indiana.

But after going there last year and having a great time, that’s what’s happened. So that’s why I went to Chicago this weekend.

Thursday and Friday I wandered around town (about 6 miles of walking, in fact), took a day trip to Evanston to see Northwestern (just for fun), checked out two of Chicago’s leading cupcake places (Molly’s and Sweet Mandy B’s — both of which were tasty, but not as good as the hype), had some custom-made rapid-frozen ice cream at a place called iCream (really, that’s its name), and finally got to meet my friends’ daughter, who is totally cute.

But spending the weekend in Lake Michigan was the highlight of the trip. Continue reading

It Never Lets Me Down

8 Jul

I say it every time I go there, but it’s true: Chicago is my kind of town.

And my trip over the past few days was definitely one of the best yet.

Sure, I do some of the same things whenever I’m in the Windy City (hello, Bean), but I haven’t had the same agenda twice.

There’s always something new and different to do. Continue reading

Ain’t Nothing Like the Fourth

4 Jul

I don’t know where you are right now when you’re reading this, but in Boston, it’s hard to believe it’s July 4 already.

Maybe you’ve heard how awful the weather has been. Rain, chilly temperatures, very little sun. It’s enough to make a person flee the city.

Judging by the weather, we should probably only be in April, or early May. Definitely not halfway through the summer.

But let’s forget all that for a day, shall we?

After all, good weather or not, it’s July 4th.

The Fourth of July.

Independence Day. One of my favorite days of the year (after my birthday and Christmas, probably number three). Continue reading

Ain’t That America

4 Jul

I sure hope I’m not the only one who still gets chills every year when the Boston Pops hits the final verse of “Stars and Stripes Forever” and the flag unfurls from the top of the Hatch Shell and the confetti shoots out from the machines on the sides of the Esplanade.

It’s a fantastic, only-in-Boston moment, five of my favorite minutes of the year, and it never ceases to excite me year after year after year.

My only real regret about the Pops show this year (and every year) is that the national audience doesn’t get to see and hear more of it. Continue reading

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