If you don’t listen to Martina McBride‘s “Independence Day” too closely, it sounds like a pretty patriotic tune. “Let freedom ring / let the white dove sing / Let the whole world know that today is a day of reckoning,” she sings in the chorus. In reality, though, it isn’t about the Fourth of July. It’s set on the Fourth of July. Big difference.
When beloved Nashville songwriter Gretchen Peters wrote “Independence Day,” she made the decision to look at domestic violence through the eyes of an eight-year-old. She then cleverly integrated holiday related imagery into the song.
“Well she seemed all right by the dawn’s early light,” the song begins, as the narrator’s parents have survived another battle. The distraction, the reason our main character avoids the events that transpire between her parents is because she takes herself down to the Independence Day fair.
When she returns she learns that her mother has killed her father in a house fire. “Now I ain’t sayin’ it’s right or it’s wrong / But maybe it’s the only way / Talk about your revolution / It’s Independence Day,” the song goes.
This is a song about domestic violence and homicide, justifiable or not. It’s not about celebrating our nation’s birthday.
Should you listen to “Independence Day” on Independence Day? Of course, it’s a wonderful song that should be heard any time you want to hear it. Just maybe not sing it like it’s the “Star Spangled Banner.”