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.
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.
NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases are Despicable Me 3, which is currently scoring 62 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; Edgar Wright's Baby Driver, which opened Wednesday scoring 98 percent; and The House,which was not advance screened for critics.
GARY DeCARLO, the lead singer of Steam, has died after battling cancer. And you're all thinking it.
JUMANJI: The reimagined flick drops a trailer online.
MARVEL'S INHUMANS drops a trailer online.
ROB LOWE describes his encounter with Bigfoot.
JOHN MAYER talks to Rolling Stone about Katy Perry, what he's learned from Dead & Company and why he's given up drinking booze and opts for marijuana.
GAME OF THRONES: Emilia Clarke tells Rolling Stone how her breakthrough role turned her into a feminist, a fantasy icon and a royal fan favorite.
TWIGGY: Another Fourth of July tradition, the water-skiing squirrel. Great story. Compelling and rich. Now on GoPro!
THE SQUIRREL THREAT, however, continues unabated.
SWALLOWS are nesting inside a condo parking garage after mastering the technique of opening the door.
THE BELL-RINGING CATS return, in a variety of hats.