“Let freedom ring…”

I listen to a couple of talk radio shows on the local conservative talk radio station. I’m a big fan of Glenn Beck, but also hear snippets of Shawn Hannity’s show from time to time.

Hannity uses “Independence Day” by Martina McBride as bumper music, and the chorus has become strongly associated with his show. But I only ever hear the chorus…

I decided to look up the song and see what it is really about. The chorus sounds so very patriotic; I expected some kind of serious pro-America, anti-terrorism song.

But when I looked up the actual song lyrics, it isn’t about America, the war on terror, or anything like that. It’s about a battered woman burning her house down to get back at her abusive husband! Here’s a link to the entire song’s lyrics. See for yourself what this song is about.


This seems extremely weird to me. The song came out after the 9/11 attacks (I think) and the chorus is so blatantly American/patriotic sounding, that most people probably believe the song is “one of those pro-America, anti-terrorism, red-neck, patriotic country songs” right up there with “Have You Forgotten” by Darrell Worley.

And I have to believe that was the intent of the chorus of the song. I mean, really. Who thinks of any particular moment in their life, no matter how dramatic, as “Independence Day”? You say “Independence Day” and you think American holiday.

Now I’m not a listener of Country music, so I don’t know the particular history and/or story surrounding this song. I’m just reacting to my perception of how the song is usually heard and/or used. If you want to write a song that is about patriotism and supporting the troops (and whatever), why not just do that? Why couch the intended patriotic message of the song within a strange battered woman story?

I just find it hard to believe (as a casual listener) that this song wasn’t written from the beginning with this patriotic chorus front and center. I can’t believe that this song was written completely about a battered woman and then people noticed that it could also be used to inspire patriotic feelings.

Weird mixed imagery

But the thing that really makes me scratch my head is the lyrics of the chorus itself:

Let freedom ring
Let the white dove sing
Let the whole world know that today is the day of a reckoning
Let the weak be strong
Let the right be wrong
Roll the stone away
Let the guilty pay
It's Independence Day

What is this chorus actually saying? It has some good sentiments along with some weird stuff.

Line by line:

  • Let freedom ring: Ok. That’s fine. Kind of a jubilant expression.
  • Let the white dove sing: Um… I’m not sure about the imagery here. White doves are usually associated with peace, and this song is almost always trotted out in the context of “let’s get those terrorists!”
  • Let the whole world know that today is the day of reckoning: Definitely firmly in the “we’re going to get the torrorists” mindset (or I suppose “I’m going to fry my abusive husband”)
  • Let the weak be strong: Ok. That works basically. America is not going to stand by “weakly” anymore (or the woman isn’t going to be weak anymore).
  • Let the right be wrong: WHAT? This makes no sense to me. In a ballad kind of song like this, why would we want right to be wrong?
  • Roll the stone away: Again, WHAT? This is obviously a reference to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING IN THIS SONG?!! It doesn’t work as a patriotic image nor as a battered-woman-gets-revenge image.
  • Let the guilty pay: Now we’re back to imagery that makes more sense. We’ll make the guilty terrorists pay for what they’ve done (or the abusive husband finally gets his).
  • It’s Independence Day: As I’ve pointed out earlier, this is so overtly an American, patriotic message that it hardly works in the abused woman scenario.

I really don’t like this bizarre mismatch of symbolism. It seems that this song just threw together a few symbols (white dove, empty tomb, Independence Day, freedom ringing) in a way that rhymed. That just strikes me as poor writing.

But the inclusion of “roll the stone away” is a bit offensive. It seems to take the resurrection of Christ and just lump it in with other mundane imagery. I don’t like that. I don’t think I can look to a wonderful moment in my life and say, “The stone’s really been rolled away for me on this one!”

“Hey, I got a raise!”

“Congratulations! Rolled the stone away for you did they?”

It seems sacriligious and/or blasphemous. Ok, maybe it doesn’t rise to the level of blasphemy, but it certainly makes me uncomfortable. And I know that this song is used on conservative talk shows as bumper music, a medium that tends to appeal to Christian listeners. I would have thought that at least a few Christians would have spoken up at some point and indicated that the imagery used in that chorus just isn’t appropriate. Then again, maybe they have. I honestly wouldn’t know.

But every time I hear the chorus it bothers me.

Now, I’m sure there is much worse music out there. And frankly because it’s much worse, I don’t listen to it. It just happens that this particular chorus shows up again and again in the circles of radio to which I listen.