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The "American Dream" is a key thread in this country's tapestry, woven through politics, music and culture. Though the phrase means different things to different people, it suggests an implicit contract that if you work hard, you'll move ahead. But as the effects of the economic downturn continues to reverberate, where is the American Dream today?

Tell Us What Your American Dream Sounds Like

Axl Rose onstage. In American flag bike shorts.
Kevin Mazur
Axl Rose onstage. In American flag bike shorts.

What is the American dream?

A white picket fence and a walk-in closet? Mobility? The promise that your kids will walk an easier road than you did? Bank deposit insurance? Equality under the law? Showing up to your 25th high school reunion with a full head of hair and a fancy title? A Murcielago and a boob job?

And what in the world does that sound like? John Cougar Mellencamp? Lynyrd Sknyryd? Bruce Springsteen? Duke Ellington? KRS-One? Elton John? Jay-Z?

We've not asking for your favorite song about the U.S.A, or the song that makes you proud to be an American. We're looking for songs that set your version of the American Dream to music. We're looking for songs that tell your stories, the stories of you making your way out here. Songs that sound like your hopes and fears, frustrations and triumphs.

We asked a group of writers to tell us about their American dreams too, and write about the songs that sound like them. Over the next couple weeks here at The Record and on Morning Edition, we'll feature essays from writers like and , on songs as different as The White Stripes' " Little Room" and Ruben Blades' " Buscando America."

But first we want to hear from you. Here are a few we thought of — what song sounds like your American dream?

Aaron Copland, " Fanfare for the Common Man"

Billie Holiday, " God Bless the Child"

Black Flag, " Gimme Gimme Gimme"

Bruce Springsteen, " Born to Run"

Eric B. and Rakim, " Paid in Full"

Los Lobos, " A Matter of Time"

Madonna, " Papa Don't Preach"

Rhythm Control, " My House"

Sam Cooke, " A Change Is Gonna Come"

Tracy Chapman, " Fast Car"

Woody Guthrie, " This Land Is Your Land"

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Frannie Kelley is co-host of the Microphone Check podcast with Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
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