THE FOURTH of JULY WEEKEND STARTS HERE:
...with THE BEACH BOYS! It's Pate Reunion Weekend and time to "Do It Again." Because folks my age will always remember their mammoth July 4th concerts at the Washington Monument -- as with this 1980 take on "Good Vibrations." Their "Lost Concert" from 1964 includes "Fun, Fun, Fun," "Long, Tall Texan," "Little Deuce Coupe," "Surfer Girl," "Surfin' USA," "Shut Down," "In My Room," "Papa Ooh Mow Mow," and "Hawaii." Their take on "Dance, Dance, Dance" from Shindig! later that year is like a slice of Christmas in July. There's also a nifty twofer of "I Get Around" and "'When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)" from their first UK TV appearance on Ready Steady Go! The Andy Williams Show serves up "Help Me, Rhonda," while The Jack Benny Hour produced these quick takes on "Barbara Ann" and "California Girls." There's a primitive video for "Wouldn't It Be Nice" that starts with a cameo from Brian Wilson's dogs (Banana and Louie), who appear at the end of the Pet Sounds LP. And I'll finish with a live version of "God Only Knows" from the 1967 European tour -- one of the last Brian would do for a decade or so. BONUS: Part 1 and Part 2 of the epic Political Beats podcasts covering the entirety of the Beach Boys' catalog.
RAY CHARLES performs "America The Beautiful" like no one else.
INDEPENDENCE DAY: Bruce Springsteen, circa 1978, before it came out on The River.
AMERICAN MUSIC: The Violent Femmes, circa 1992.
DAVE ALVIN: Hey, baby, it's the "4th of July."
JAMES LILEKS: Truth.
THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER: As performed by Jimi Hendrix, Whitney Houston, Smokey Robinson, members of the Grateful Dead, and Umphrey’s McGee.
THE UNITED STATES prepares to celebrate the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain on July 4, 1776. As the Wikipedia notes, this is a little arbitrary: New Englanders had been fighting Britain since April 1775; the first motion in the Continental Congress for independence was made on June 8th; and the Congress voted 12-0 for independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain on July 2, 1776. Even so, the publication of the Declaration was momentous . If you're not in DC, the best way to see and learn about the Declaration may be through the Charters of Freedom website. Or you can watch Mel Gibson(!), Michael Douglas, Renee Zelleweger, Kevin Spacey(!), Wynona Ryder and other Hollywood folk read the Declaration.
Of course, the holiday more broadly celebrates the American Revolutionary War, and the Founders' unlikely victory. People with the highest standard of living and the lowest taxes in the Western World fought a sometimes unpopular war for our freedom. Early on, the Revolutionaries (also known as "Americans" or "Patriots") had the active support of about 40 to 45 percent of the colonial population. By 1779, there were more Americans fighting with the British than with Washington, which is why Washington needed help from the French, the Spanish and freed Blacks. You can separate fact from fiction regarding the sacrifices and fates of the Founders at Snopes. You can hear two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough read from the first chapter of his 1776 via NPR. Or watch a nifty clip on the passage and public reading of the Declaration from the John Adams miniseries.
BLONDIE: In honor of Debbie Harry turning 75, here's the band, Live at Paradise in Boston, circa 1978.
THE GRATEFUL DEAD streams their first-ever studio outtakes collection, 'Workingman's Dead: The Angel's Share.'
THE GO-GOS announce a new song and a documentary.
THE 50 BEST LPs of 2020 (So Far), according to PopMatters.
THE BEST ALBUMS of 2020 (So Far), according to The Ringer.
THE NUMBER ONES looks at Toto's lovably absurd, overblown synth-gloop anthem "Africa."
BEAVIS & BUTT-HEAD return for two new seasons on Comedy Central.
WAYNE'S WORLD & ME: How Garth became a kind of beacon — a guide to being a real person in a branded world.
MAHERSHALA ALI will star in a six-part HBO limited series about boxing legend Jack Johnson.
STAR WARS: No, Disney is not erasing the sequels as suggested by a satirical YouTuber.
MAD MEN is moving to Amazon and coming back to AMC.
OLIVIA DeHAVILLAND, the last remaining star of Old Hollywood, turns 104.
JULY 4TH MOVIE RELEASES, ranked by The Ringer.
TWIGGY: Another Fourth of July tradition, the water-skiing squirrel. She retired last summer, but it remains a great story. Compelling and rich.
POTATO COD vs ROBOT SPY SQUID: Who You Got?
BEAVERS gnawing away at the Arctic permafrost.
INVADING CICADAS May Turn Into Sex-Crazed Zombies This Summer.