Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • The Dissemination of "Amazing Grace"

    Article. Article. NOTES:1. Hymns were (and still are) known by two titles: one, the first line of their texts and two, the name of the hymn tune to which the text is sung. Hence, one tune serve for a number of texts. [back to text] 2. Amazing Grace (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 114. [back to text] 3. Ibid. 126. [back to text]

  • "The Friends We Love" by Septimus Winner

    Article. Winner wrote many such ballads during the civil war years. They were perhaps even more popular than those of his contemporary, Stephen Foster. According to Charles Claghorn, author of The Mocking Bird: The Life and Diary of Its Author, Septimus Winner, President Abraham Lincoln's favorite song was Winner's Listen to the Mockingbird, another simple ballad. The appeal of these popular songs was not ...

  • Historic Events in the Civil War: Fort Sumter

    Article. More examples of music's historical narrative are available in the Civil War Sheet Music Collection online.

  • U.S. Air Force Song

    Article. Melodies and songs are often quoted within another piece of music and "Off We Go" is no exception. Frank Zappa's twenty-five-minute opus "Billy the Mountain," a pastiche of American musical genres, incorporates melodic references to "Off We Go" and a number of other tunes such as "Over the Rainbow," "Pomp and Circumstance," and television's the Tonight Show theme.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Anchors Aweigh

    Article. Charles Zimmermann died just before the U.S. entered WWI but his counterpart, John Philip Sousa, enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was paid one dollar per month to organize the young musicians recruited into the service. He molded the Great Lakes Navy Band into an accomplished musical organization and became the first Navy musician to hold the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Midshipman ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • You're a Grand Old Flag

    Article. With and without Ethel Levey George Washington, Jr. ran from February 12, 1906 to April 23, 1906 and, following a national tour, had a one month return engagement in New York from February 11 through March 11, 1907.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • I'll Be Home for Christmas

    Article. In December 1965, having completed the first U.S. space rendezvous and set a record for the longest flight in the U.S. space program, the astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell hurtled back to earth aboard their Gemini 7 spacecraft. Asked by NASA communication personnel if they wanted any particular music piped up to them, the crew requested Bing Crosby's recording of "I'll Be ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • The Army Goes Rolling Along

    Article. Refrain: Then it's Hi! Hi! Hey!The Army's on its way.Count off the cadence loud and strong,For where e'er we go,You will always knowThat The Army Goes Rolling Along.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • The Yankee Doodle Boy

    Article. Subsequent to Cohan's most successful years on Broadway, a number of shows have incorporated his song "Yankee Doodle Boy" and/or depicted the "Yankee Doodle Boy," himself. Eddie Buzzell sang "Yankee Doodle Boy" in the 1929 motion-picture adaptation of the big hit Little Johnny Jones. Jimmy Cagney played the role of George M. Cohan and sang "Yankee Doodle Boy" in the Academy Award-winning 1942 ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Hail to the Chief

    Article. -- "The Lady of the Lake" by Sir Walter Scott

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • God Bless America

    Article. Irving Berlin lived a long life, one hundred and one years, and built a catalog of over 1,000 songs. His first published song was "Marie from Sunny Italy" (1907) and his first major hit was "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (1911). He also wrote for Broadway and the movies. Among his most recognized songs are "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody," "Mandy," "White Christmas," ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • This Land is Your Land

    Article. Nobody living can ever stop me As I go walking my Freedom Highway Nobody living can make me turn back This land was made for you and me.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Semper Paratus

    Article. The work of the U.S. Coast Guard has always included a strong humanitarian emphasis. Orville and Wilbur Wright, for example, were able to engage members of the Coast Guard to assist in their historic first. Years later Orville Wright told this story:

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Fanfare for the Common Man

    Article. In March 1943, income taxes were a major issue for the common man. The United States had been at war about fifteen months and government spending soared. The previous year, as other taxes rose, only one in seven taxpayers had managed to save enough from their wages to pay the federal government. Congress had just recently required employers to withhold an employee's estimated ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • This is My Country

    Article. The co-authors of "This Is My Country" passed away within a month of each other. Raye died in Encino, California on January 29, 1985. Al Jacobs passed away on February 13, 1985 in Baltimore, Maryland. Their song "This is My Country" is played nightly during the finale of the Disneyland and Disney World fireworks spectacular.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Columbia the Gem of the Ocean

    Article. Sheet music from both 1843 and 1846 credited the American title as "Columbia, the Land of the Brave." Yet between these two dates, in 1844, the song was also published under the title it subsequently retained, "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean." Extremely popular during Abraham Lincoln's Civil War administration, the song became a standard tune in the U.S. Marine Corps Band's repertoire.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Battle hymn of the republic

    Article. But it was when Julia Ward Howe visited Washington, DC in 1861 that the tune properly came to be called "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Howe and her husband, both of whom were active abolitionists, experienced first-hand a skirmish between Confederate and Union troops in nearby Virginia, and heard the troops go into battle singing "John Brown's Body." That evening, November 18, ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Library of Congress March

    Article. One particular hurdle was the brevity of the 'dog fight' section. The piano draft was too short here, and seemed undeveloped. Fortunately, one of the early fragment sketches had some melodic scribbles (nearly indecipherable) that turned out to match the places where the piano draft seemed incomplete. With this the 'dog fight' was filled out and the form came together nicely.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Over There

    Article. President Wilson described "Over There" as "a genuine inspiration to all American manhood" and Cohan remained unwavering in his patriotic fervor. However, a significant number of artists and performers grew increasingly disillusioned with a war in which 9,000,000 individuals lost their lives (117,000 of whom were Americans). Thus Cohan's work was contrapuntal to the edgier music produced by performers such as James Reese ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • My Country 'Tis of Thee

    Article. Smith initially wrote another verse, which he cut because it seemed too strident and not in keeping with what he wanted to be a peaceful homage to the nation. Beethoven and Haydn have incorporated the music of this song into their own work and, on August 28, 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King quoted Smith's lyrics when he stated from the steps of the ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • African-American Band Stocks

    Article. Article. All of these composers wrote hit music, heard in hotel restaurants as well as in the small-town bandstands of America. This music still retains its ability to delight.

  • Marines' Hymn

    Article. The first version of the song was copyrighted, published and distributed in 1919 by The Leatherneck - a Marine Corps magazine printed in Quantico, Virginia. On November 21, 1942, the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps approved a slight change in the words of the first verse, to read "In air, on land, and sea" instead of the earlier "In the air, ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • African American Performers on Early Sound Recordings, 1892-1916

    Article. Article. Mainspring Press http://www.mainspringpress.com/victorsales.htmlExternal

  • " Spelling Bee" by Septimus Winner

    Article. Though not originally considered one of Winner's more popular songs, Spelling Bee achieved immense popularity as Swinging the Alphabet, a novelty song sung by the Three Stooges in their 1938 film, Violent Is the Word for Curly. It was the only full-length song performed by the Three Stooges in their short films, and it marked the only time they mimed to their own ...

  • Stars and Stripes Forever

    Article. The "Flute in C" with silver keys and ferrules was used for 11 years by Mr. Louis P. Fritze, a member of the Sousa Band. He played it in the Band's 1910 around-the-world tour. It has been repaired by a broad silver band at the socket of the head-joint and had mother-of-pearl set in the "stopper."

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002