Historical Background


Beginning and End of Unit Activities; Assessment Strategies

"The Alcoholic Blues"
Words by Edward Laska; music by Albert von Tilzer, 1919
A World War I veteran laments Prohibition and returning to civilian life without liquor

"The Women's Doxology"
Words by Mira H. Pitman; tune "Old Hundred," 1920
A hymn of thanks sung when the women's suffrage amendment finally passed

"The Argentines, the Portuguese and the Greeks"
Arthur M. Swanstrom, Carey Morgan, 1920
A humorous song of envy and admiration for the new wave of immigrants

"(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 1920's America

"Happy Days Are Here Again"
Words by Jack Yellen; music by Milton Ager, 1929

The Great Depression anthem that became FDR's campaign song

"El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez"
Anonymous, c. 1910
The most famous Texas Mexican outlaw ballad

"The Japanese Sandman"
Raymond B. Egan, Richard A. Whiting, 1920
A sentimental song, romanticizing Japan prior to World War II.

"So Long! Oo-Long (How Long You Gonna Be Gone?)"
Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, 1920
A song about separated lovers inspired by Madame Butterfly

"I'm an Indian"
Leo Edwards, Blanche Merrill, 1921
A Jewish-American girl mocks Native Americans

"All Coons Look Alike to Me"
Ernest Hogan, 1896
The song that started the racist slew of coon songs

"Follow the Drinking Gourd"
Unknown, 1929
A spiritual about the slaves' desire to move north and escape captivity

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

"I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier"
Al Piantadosi, Alfred Bryan, 1915
Anti-war song from a mother and father's perspectives

"Solidarity Forever"
Words by Ralph Chaplin; tune "Battle Hymn of the Republic," 1915
A popular labor union song to a tune from the Civil War

"Hello! Ma Baby"
Ida Emerson, Joseph E. Howard, 1899
A popular Tin Pan Alley hit reveals how the telephone was becoming a part of everyday life

"How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm?"
Words by Sam M. Lewis, Joe Young; music by Walter Donaldson, 1919
A show tune illustrates rural-to-urban migration after World War I

"Ain't We Got Fun"
Words by Gus Kahn, Raymond B. Egan; music by Richard Whiting, 1921
Popular song celebrates social and economic changes in the home during the Roaring '20s

"St. Louis Blues"
W. C. Handy, 1914
A blues song about a woman who has been left by her lover

"Down in Poverty Row"
Gussie Davis, 1896
A waltz about a girl who lives in a tenement

"Ching-a Ling's Jazz Bazaar"
Ethel Bridges, Joseph H. Santley, 1920
A foxtrot describing a stereotype-riddled visit to Chinatown

"Chinatown, My Chinatown"
William Jerome, Jean Schwartz, 1910
A popular song from a musical

"Henry's Made a Lady Out of Lizzie"
Walter O'Keefe, Robert Dolan, 1928
Tin Pan Alley sings the praises and pitfalls of Ford's Model T, replaced by the Model A

"Lindbergh, the Eagle of the U.S.A."
Howard Johnson, Al Sherman, 1927
Twenty years after the Wright Brothers' flight, airplanes became an object of romantic fantasy

"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

"Cancion mixteca"
Jose Lopez Alavez, c. 1910
An ode to indigenous minority community in Oaxaca

"Lift Every Voice and Sing"
James Weldon Johnson, J. Rosamond Johnson, 1900
The song that became known as the "Negro National Anthem"

"We'll Understand It Better By and By"
Charles Tindley, 1905
A black gospel hymn that was readily adopted at white camp meeting revivals

"You're a Grand Old Flag"
George M. Cohan, 1906
Patriotic show tune by the master "Yankee Doodle Dandy"

"I'll Overcome Some Day"
Charles Tindley, 1901
The hymn that inspired "We Shall Overcome"

"Can the Circle Be Unbroken"
The Carter Family, 1927
A reworking of a hymn about a mother's funeral

"Jesus is Coming Soon"
Blind Willie Johnson, 1928
A blues song about how the 1918 flu pandemic was a warning from God for people to turn away from evil

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