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"From "Yankee Doodle" to "Roll On Columbia, Roll On," American folk songs capture particular points in our nation’s history. From battles and political contests to murders and natural disasters, they reflect people and events that captured the public interest and imagination. Though frequently unpolished and derivative, such creative works nonetheless reflect contemporary attitudes and opinions. Norm Cohen, a long-time scholar of folk music, leads this geographical tour of ballads and folk songs in the United States. State sections begin with a brief overview of the region’s settlement. Each entry includes the full text of the song with background notes on the events or issues reflected in the lyrics. Selected songs are illustrated with reproductions of the original broadside publications. The coverage features war songs as well as patriotic or nostalgic tributes to states and regions. From the opening of the frontier to mill strikes, economic developments are reflected in songs like "The Erie Canal" and "the Marion Massacre." The chronological range extends from the Revolution through the 1930s. Floods, train wrecks and bank robbers are among the popular themes of songs memorializing crimes and tragedies. Some selections, like "The Old Folks at Home," "The Yellow Rose of Texas" or "Tom Dooley," are widely known, but most are much more obscure. Most are written in English, but a little more than 5 percent feature songs in Spanish, Hawaiian or the languages of other ethnic groups. Supplemental materials include a list of songs excluded, a general bibliography and a title index of all entries. Most of the latter are excluded from the general index. The result is a comprehensive survey of traditional American folk music that will be of interest in school, public and academic libraries."--Lawrence Looks at Books, April 2009
--John R.M. Lawrence
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