Unit 6: Emergence of Modern United States, 1890-1930

United/Divided | War & Peace | Work | Home | Moving Along | Faith & Ideals


“The Alcoholic Blues”

Albert von Tilzer, Edward Laska, 1919
A World War I veteran laments Prohibition and coming back to civilian life without liquor

Lyrics | Recording information | Recording online

“Women’s Doxology”

Mira H. Pitman, 1920
A hymn of thanks sung when the women’s suffrage amendment finally passed

“The Argentines, the Portuguese, and the Greeks”

Arthur M. Swanstrom and Carey Morgan, 1920
A humorous song of envy and begrudging admiration for the new wave of immigrants

Lyrics | Recording

“(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue”

Fats Waller, Andy Razaf, Harry Brooks, 1929
A jazz expression of what it was like to be African American in 1920s America

Lyric source | Recording

“El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez”

Anonymous, c. 1910
The most famous Texas Mexican outlaw ballad

Lyric source |  Recording


War and Peace


“Over There”

George M. Cohan, 1917
The song most associated with World War I

Lyric source | Recording | Recording online

“I Didn’t Raise my Boy to be a Soldier”

Al Piantadosi, Alfred Bryan, c. 1917
Anti-war song from a mother and father’s perspective

Lyric Source | Recording online




“Solidarity Forever”

Ralph Chaplin, 1915
A popular labor union song sung to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”

Lyric source | Recording

“Boll Weevil Song”

Huddie Ledbetter, c. 1930s
African American sharecroppers met the devastation of boll weevils with this humorous song

Lyrics | Recording




“Hello Ma Baby”

Ida Emerson, Joseph E. Howard, c. 1905
A popular Tin Pan Alley hit reveals how the telephone was becoming a part of everyday life

Lyric source | Recording | Recording online

“How You Gonna Keep Him Down on the Farm”

Walter Donaldson, Sam M. Lewis, Joe Young, c. 1920
A show tune illustrates rural to urban migration after World War I

Lyric source | Recording | Recording online

“Ain’t We Got Fun”

Words Gus Kahn & Raymond B. Egan, music Richard Whiting, 1921
Popular song celebrates social and economic changes in the home during the Roaring ‘20s

Lyric source | Recording | Recording online


Moving Along


“Henry’s Made a Lady out of Lizzie”

Walter O’Keefe, 1928
A Tin Pan Alley song sings the praises and pitfalls of the Model T, replaced by the Model A

Lyric source | Recording

“Lindbergh, The Eagle of the U.S.A.”

Howard Johnson and Al Sherman, 1927
Ten years after the Wright Brothers’ flight, airplanes became an object of romantic fantasy

Lyric source | Recording | Recording online

“He Lies in the American Land”

Andrew Kovaly, 1900
A Slovakian immigrant sings to the newly arrived family of a co-worker killed in the mill



Faith and Ideals


“Lift Every Voice and Sing”

James Weldon Johnson, J. Rosamond Johnson, 1900
The song that became known as the “Negro National Anthem”

Recording | Recording online

“We’ll Understand it Better By and By”

Albert Tindley, 1905
A black gospel hymn that was readily adopted at white camp meeting revivals

Lyric source

“You’re a Grand Old Rag”

George M. Cohan, 1906
Patriotic show tune by the master “Yankee Doodle Dandy”

Lyric source



More Units:

1. Worlds Meeting

2. New Nation

3. Expansion & Reform

4. Civil War & Reconstruction

5. Development of Industrial


6. Emergence of Modern U.S.

7. Great Depression & WW II

8. Post-War U.S.

9. Contemporary U.S.









Copyright 2007-2008 Center for American Music, University of Pittsburgh Library System