Saturday, July 7, 2012

National Celebrations: Born On The 4th Of July

Tom Paxton: Born On The 4th Of July


If the first person narrative of this song sounds familiar, it's because singer-songwriter Tom Paxton based his anti-war anthem on the same autobiography that Oliver Stone transformed into the 1989 Tom Cruise vehicle of the same name. And yet I've always thought the song is more coherent, more cohesive, than the film, in part because the pacing and plot of the life story of Vietnam vet turned activist Ron Kovic so closely parallel the structure of the political folk ballad. As such, in its era, the song made for an especially effective political litmus test: indeed, whether you see this song as patriotic, or instead interpret it as a threat to patriotism, continues to be a strong predictor of voting habits and party affiliation in modern western culture.

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