Martina McBride Has ‘Mixed Feelings’ About ‘Independence Day’ Becoming a Patriotic Anthem
"Independence Day" is one of Martina McBride's most revered songs, but it's not really about Independence Day — at least not how most people know it.
Penned by Gretchen Peters, "Independence Day" centers around a woman experiencing domestic abuse, the story told through her daughter's young eyes. The lyrics paint a powerful picture in a gentle way of an 8-year-old girl witnessing her mother's abuse at the hands of her father, using such potent lyrics as "she tried to pretend he wasn't drinkin' again / But daddy'd left the proof on her cheek" and "well, she lit up the sky that fourth of July / By the time that the firemen come / They just put out the flames / And took down some names / And send me to the county home" to tell the story.
But the famous chorus that references white doves, a day of reckoning and proclaiming "let freedom ring" has caused some to embrace it as a patriotic anthem, as opposed to a moving story of a woman who takes matters into her own hands to escape the confines of domestic violence.
“I have mixed feelings about it, to be honest,” McBride tells Rolling Stone of how the the song has been misinterpreted over the years. “I have always had such a connection to the real meaning of the song, and it’s ... ‘annoying’ isn’t the word … interesting that some people just don’t understand what the song is about at all.”
Peters spent about a year-and-a-half writing the song, which was released in 1994 and went on to win Song of the Year at the 1995 CMA Awards. The timeless story ends with the young girl coming home to find the house on fire, leaving it unclear if the mother survived. “I was so afraid of the ending that I kept trying to figure out another way to end it. I look back at that and the irony of that doesn’t escape me, because I feel like the woman in the song spent a long time looking for another ending," Peters explains of the writing process.
Though the song's meaning has become misconstrued over the years (Peters shares a story of citizens line dancing to the song during a Fourth of July parade in a town just outside of Nashville), McBride recalls the stories fans would share with her about being in the same situation as the lead woman in "Independence Day," their stories impacting her as much as the song resonates with them.
“I started getting all these letters — handwritten letters, back in the day — from women saying, ‘This is my song.’ I got a few letters that said, ’I heard this song on the radio, I’ve been battered for 10 years, and I left," she recalls. "'This was the thing that made me realize that it’s not my fault, that I need to make a change.’”
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