We Asked For Your Favorite Anthems. You Answered 'America' When NPR asked listeners for their personal American anthems, many responded with Simon & Garfunkel's "America." We asked them to tell us why.
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We Asked For Your Favorite Anthems. You Answered 'America'

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We Asked For Your Favorite Anthems. You Answered 'America'

We Asked For Your Favorite Anthems. You Answered 'America'

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When NPR launched the series American Anthem this summer, we asked you to send us stories about your personal anthems, songs that uplift you. A number of people wrote about Simon & Garfunkel's song "America," which was released back in 1968. It is a road trip song that's about more than just traveling across the country.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICA")

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: (Humming).

EUGENE LISANSKY: My name is Eugene Lisansky. I live in St. Petersburg, Fla.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICA")

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: (Humming).

LISANSKY: The song really speaks to me in the sense of a kind of a search, a quest for meaning.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICA")

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: (Singing) Let us be lovers. We'll marry our fortunes together.

YAEL COHEN: My name is Yael Cohen (ph), and I live in Oakland, Calif.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICA")

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: (Singing) I've got some real estate here in my bag.

COHEN: It really resonated with me listening to this song on a road trip up the West Coast with my husband.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICA")

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: (Singing) And we walked off to look for America.

LISANSKY: The lines that really speak to me are the geographic references.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICA")

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: (Singing) Cathy, I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh...

COHEN: My mother is Israeli. As a young adult, she traveled across America on a Greyhound bus.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICA")

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: (Singing) It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw. I've gone to look for America.

LISANSKY: Hitchhiking was something that everyone did. It's how you got from point A to point B. 1968 was the election of Richard Nixon and the height of the Vietnam War. And then later, in the '70s, we had Watergate. And I think a lot of us in that baby boomer generation really couldn't figure out what it was all about, either for ourselves or for America. It was a time of restlessness, and it was a time of self-exploration.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICA")

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: (Singing) Toss me a cigarette, I...

VAL SULLIVAN: We left probably two weeks after graduating college. My name is Val Sullivan (ph); I live in Columbia, Md. Drove through Maryland down into Tennessee, hit up Smoky National Park (ph), stopping in at a lot of little towns and things along the way - we lived in a tent for that entire summer, just driving around and setting it up where we'd find ourselves and just enjoying the moment.

(SOUNDBITE OF SIMON AND GARFUNKEL SONG, "AMERICA")

SULLIVAN: The whole part where he says, I'm empty and aching, and I don't know why - just really is kind of how I feel as an American right now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AMERICA")

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: (Singing) I'm empty and aching, and I don't know why. Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, they've all come to look for America.

LISANSKY: Many of us, myself included, have been stuck on the New Jersey Turnpike. And it's not a place that you would really think that you would find meaning.

SULLIVAN: Realizing that everybody is looking for America - what does that mean?

COHEN: For me, getting to know America is more about the questions that we ask than the sort of sureness that we might reach in our own experience.

LISANSKY: I don't know whether we ever did find it or whether this was just a quixotic quest. But I think all of us are still searching for America and hoping to find it and define it and give it meaning. And we all do that in our own way.

(SOUNDBITE OF SIMON AND GARFUNKEL SONG, "AMERICA")

MARTIN: That was Eugene Lisansky, Yael Cohen and Val Sullivan talking about Simon & Garfunkel's song "America."

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