Editor’s Note: As the 4th of July holiday weekend rolls around, students in the CMN Music Journalism Program were asked to come up with one song they think is appropriate for the 4th of July, 2019.
When I was a little girl, I didn’t give the Fourth of July much critical thought outside of asking my mom whose turn it was to barbecue, or asking my dad to drive me outside of our small riverside town to buy fireworks.
Those were simpler times.
Now, as a 21-year-old college educated black woman armed with knowledge about the contradiction between celebration and truth, my relationship to the Fourth of July is a complicated one. The 1975’s “Love It If We Made It” is the musical masterpiece that helps me explain why.
“Love It If We Made It” intentionally opens with striking lyrics as gathered from the band’s verified Genius annotation. Along with provocative language, the first verse alone alludes to police brutality, the pitfalls of unlimited access to information, the current administration and the “failure of modernity.”
The second verse goes like this: “And poison me, daddy/ I got the Jones right through my bones/ Write it on a piece of stone/ A beach of drowning three-year olds/ Rest in peace Lil Peep/ The poetry is in the streets/ Jesus save us/ Modernity has failed us.”
The 1975’s leader, Matty Healey, essentially yells this tune. Alongside keys, boastful drums and a sound that can only be described as sparkly, his delivery is what helps drive the point home. You can hear the desperation in what he’s communicating.
Everything he sings about in “Love It If We Made It” are reminders of how far we still have to go. It can be hard to feel hopeful sometimes, which makes being a Fourth of July enthusiast impossible for me, as someone my country doesn’t necessarily celebrate — let alone the many other marginalized and underrepresented identities and communities.
I’ll enjoy the hot dogs burned to perfection and the expressions of excitement on my little brother’s face as colors light up the night sky, but I don’t celebrate the Fourth of July anymore. I can’t.
For some, the holiday is a mark of America’s independence, of freedom, of liberty. For others, it is simply a reminder of how America came to be: genocide, slavery, racism, sexism, and so on.
It’s a reminder of what Childish Gambino talked about in “This is America”, why Colin Kaepernick took a knee, why intersectionality as an analytical framework of power imbalance is necessary for all forms of activism.
I’m not all cynicism, though.
Despite the injustice and issues that most of the song details, the chorus is hopeful in its repetition of “I’d love it if we made it.” Just as Healey repeats these words throughout the song, I’ll continue repeating them until we actually have made it.
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.