Learn more about individual American folk songs, the place they had in history, and how they have adapted to the ever-changing world of American folk music.
Patriotic Folk Songs
Here's a look at the background of some of the most popular and memorable patriotic American folk songs.
"America the Beautiful" - Katharine Lee Bates & Samuel Ward
"America the Beautiful, " which is often called the national hymn of the United States, was adapted from a poem by a Wellsely College English professor named Katharine Lee Bates, written in 1893.
"Auld Lang Syne" - Robert Burns
"Auld Lang Syne" started its life as a poem written by Scottish poet Robert Burns that was set to the tune of an old Scottish folk song. It wasn't long before the song became traditional in Scotland and the British Isles as a folk song to be sung to commemorate the New Year.
"Blowin in the Wind" - Bob Dylan
Blowin' in the Wind is, inarguably, one of the most popular protest songs in the history of the craft, although when Bob Dylan introduced it to the world in 1962, he insisted it wasn't a protest song.
"Camptown Races (Do-Dah), " by Stephen Foster
"Camptown Races" was written by preeminent American songwriter Stephen Foster, who first published the song in 1850. Learn more about this historical American folk song.
"Don't Think Twice It's Alright" - Bob Dylan
"Don't Think Twice It's Alright" is a song from Bob Dylan's 1963 album, 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.' The melody is said to have been taught to Dylan by folksinger Paul Clayton, from whom Dylan also borrowed a few lyrics that were originally in Clayton's "Who's Goin' to Buy You Ribbons When I'm Gone?"
"Goodnight Irene" - Leadbelly
From Leadbelly to the Weavers and beyond, "Goodnight Irene" has been a seminal song in American folk music history.
"Home on the Range, " Dr. Brewster M. Higley, Traditional
"Home on the Range" was adapted from a poem by Dr. Brewster M. Higley called "My Western Home, " first published in the Smith County Pioneer in 1873.
"I Shall Not Be Moved, " Traditional
"We Shall Not Be Moved" is a traditional American folk song whose lyrics probably stretch back to the slave era, although there is no indication of when the song was written or who wrote it. It has been used in worship as well as several socio-political movements. Learn more about "We Shall Not Be Moved."
"If I Had a Hammer, " by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays
"If I Had a Hammer" was written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays in 1949, and was first recorded by their band the Weavers. More than a decade later, in 1962, Peter Paul and Mary recorded the song and enjoyed much greater success with their version. Trini Lopez recorded it a year later. Numerous other artists from around the world have recorded versions the song throughout the years.
American Holocausts, and the Lies we Love to tell ourselves
INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW EDITION
In 1993, I came across a review of a book about people who deny that the Nazi Holocaust actually occurred. I wrote to the author, a university professor, telling her that her book made me wonder whether she knew that an American holocaust had taken place, and that the denial of it put the denial of the Nazi one to shame. So great and deep is the denial of the American holocaust, I said, that the denyers are not even aware that the claimers or their claim exist. Yet, a few million people have died in the American holocaust and many more millions have been condemned to lives of misery and torture as a result of US interventions extending from China and Greece in the 1940s to Afghanistan and Iraq in the 1990s