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This Land that I Love: Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, and the Story of Two American Anthems

John Shaw.
Publisher PublicAffairs  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.35 x 0.9 inches
ISBN 9781610392235
Pages/Publication Date 275/2013
Daedalus Item Code 61661
This item is not available.
February 1940: After a decade of worldwide depression, World War II had begun in Europe and Asia; Irving Berlin had captured America's hopeful and patriotic mood a little more than a year before with his song "God Bless America." Woody Guthrie, penniless and near-starving as he eked his way from Texas to New York by bus and by thumb, couldn't avoid Berlin's song, and conceived of a rebuttal that would encompass the dark realities of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, beginning with the lines: "This land is your land, this land is my land." Songwriter and music critic John Shaw gives us a dual biography of these American songs. Examining the lives of their authors, he finds that Guthrie and Berlin had more in common than either could have guessed; though Guthrie's image was defined by train-hopping, Berlin had also risen from homelessness, working his way up from the streets of New York. Shaw sheds new light on our patriotic musical heritage, from "Yankee Doodle" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" to Martin Luther King's recitation from "My Country 'Tis of Thee" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963. This rich vein of half-forgotten musical traditions spans war songs, ragtime, country music, folk music, and African American spirituals.

"Within a frame of the deepest familiarity, John Shaw rescues forgotten stories and excavates stories never told before. The book is generous, open, questing, and blazingly incisive: with a sentence, maybe two or three, he gets to the heart of such unsolved mysteries as blackface, the concept of folk, or the loop of celebrity and history in modern life."óGreil Marcus

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