After multiple decades living in the US as a Canadian national, I become a US citizen in 2 weeks. It's made me a little retrospective. I found myself curious about the sound that "is" an American band. For me...I finally came up with X. John X Doe and eXene Cervenka singing about lost love, heartache, hope and triumph...they brought the perfect blend of well crafted turmoil into their music.
Anyway, just my take...Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen for their poetry.
The article is in the current edition of Rolling Stone (with Ray Charles on the cover). It's quite the good article, and there's some really, really good tributes to Charles and memories of his music, too.