Martina McBride Reflects on the Poetry of "Independence Day"
By Chris Gray
Like the heroine in her 1994 hit song "Independence Day," Martina McBride has been also known to light up the sky. The country-pop star also known for "Wild Angels," "A Broken Wing" and last year's "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" admits she has a thing for fireworks.
When she's not on tour, McBride says she enjoys retreating to her tiny hometown of Sharon, Kansas (pop. 150) and helping her husband John set up "a ton" of fireworks on the since-closed high school's baseball field. The 4th of July is "like Christmas for him," she notes.
"So we spend all day setting up, and we have a huge fireworks show," says McBride. "It's actually pretty amazing."
Despite its title, McBride says she doesn't necessarily associate "Independence Day" and the 4th of July together all that much.
"For me it's about so much more than the 4th of July," McBride says. "Honestly, very often, I don't think of the two together as far as a celebration of our nation's freedom and that song. For me the song's about so much more.
"But for the several thousand people that will be out on the Fourth, it's about that," she adds. "It's always good to play that song on the 4th of July, for sure."
Doing interviews from her back porch on a "beautiful, gorgeous day here in Nashville," the 46-year old singer says she hadn't even originally planned to release "Independence Day" as a single; she just wanted to record it. Written by Gretchen Peters, the song tells the stories of two women, the daughter of an alcoholic, abusive father and her mother who winds up burning down the family homestead. It was controversial subject matter for country radio at the time (and probably today), but McBride says her label RCA was behind her all the way.
"They were always supportive about it being a single, she says. "It's been a long time ago, but I can't remember any sort of worry or hesitation," she recalls.
However, "Independence Day did meet with some resistance from radio," McBride says
"Yeah. I think we had 10 or 12 stations that never played it," the singer adds. "Everybody thinks it was this huge No. 1 song, but I think it peaked at 11 or something. So it was a fight to get it on the radio."
Then, in June 1994, not all that long after the song had been released to radio, the Nicole Brown Simpson murders happened and domestic abuse--which happened to be the very topic of McBride's anthem-in-the-making--suddenly became the nation's No. 1 topic of conversation.
"So we went from being something that nobody wanted to talk about or would play on a radio station, to a topic that was on the news every hour on their radio station," McBride says.
Even at the time, she says she could watch people's attitudes changing after "Independence Day" forced some uncomfortable issues into the light.