1. ‘America the Beautiful’ by Ray Charles
The loveliest of all American anthems, sung by one of the loveliest of all Americans… one who endured his fair share of the country’s ugliness and still managed to earnestly sing the definitive version of this song. President Barack Obama called it ‘the most patriotic piece of music ever performed.’ It’s hard to argue. As a bonus, Charles also wrote the grade-school perrennial ‘Fifty Nifty United States,’ which is a little less patriotic but no less essential.