Ponder ‘If I Am American’ by Emily Kurn

Paul Keggington

July 01, 2010
Emily Kurn

During July, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity feature 'If I Am An American' by Emily Kurn.

During this month Independence Day- focused on self-evident truths endowed on us by our Creator who loves and cares for us, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity feature the thought-provoking If I Am American by Emily Kurn. As St. Francis was called to be deeply contemplative yet sensitively aware of the societal needs of his time in history, we invite your comments on the song.

Emily’s Comments

I wrote “If I Am American” about 5 years ago after watching a documentary on Bob Dylan and comparing the folk music in the 60’s to the folk music today. I don’t usually write political songs and wanted to explore what I had to say if I were to write one.

About Emily

Although she is based in Anchorage, Alaska, Emily Kurn has maintained a steady presence in the folk music world and on folk and roots radio charts. As sparkling and engaging in her writing as she is onstage, Emily is “one of the exciting voices of folk music”. (Miles of Music).

Emily KurnHer 2007 release, Things Change, recorded at the Signature Sounds Studio with Mark Thayer (Chris Smither, Peter Mulvey), charted for 8 consecutive months on the Folk-DJ Chart, charting at #6 in July 2007. Her song, “Light the Lamp”, charted at #2 in December, 2007. “I’m Just Like You,” was released October 2008.

Emily has earned a host of honors including 2nd place in the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival Songwriting Contest (2007), performing as a Kerrville New Folk Finalist (2007), Honorable Mention in the prestigious International Songwriting Competition Americana Category (2008), and 2nd place in the Susquehana Music and Arts Fest Songwriter’s Contest (2008).

In 2007, her song “If I Am American” was featured on the documentary “American Music: Off the Record” featuring Jackson Browne, Iris DeMent, and Noam Chomsky, among others.


If I Am American

The dollar is king in the world where I’m living

The heart is a pawn

The whole world is fighting an unnamed war

On my front lawn

            But if I am American born

            If this is what my relatives fought for

            Shouldn’t I be proud of what I am

            If I am American

Out on the street in Cambodia and Vietnam

Locals leaned forward to ask me,

“Where are you from?

I told them “Canada, Land of the Maple Leaf,

Keepers of Snow.”

“Oh!” They said, “You’re from Canada,

Must be very cold.”


If I am American,

If the one I vote for doesn’t win

If my country doesn’t act in ways that I approve

Am I still a member of the club?

Proud to tell the world where I am from

If I’m not should I just pack my bags and move?

You won’t find a flag on my car,

On my house, in my T-shirt drawer

I support local businesses,

Try not to shop at the superstores

When I paint my new house

I’ll avoid red and blue as a color scheme

As nice as they look, I might have to skip blue

And go with green





What would you include in a song entitled If I Am American?

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