Winter Lecture Series

History of the United States in Six Songs

Professor Dan Breen will present a lecture series on American music.  Each Sunday Professor Breen will pick a song to review and the history around that song:

The six session series begins on Sunday February 2nd  at 2 pm in the library meeting room.  The lectures continue on Sundays into March.  (February 2nd, 9th, 23th, March 1st, 8th,  15th) .

Sunday, February 2nd
1) Yankee Doodle–Although pre-dating the Revolution, “Yankee Doodle” would emerge as an unofficial national anthem during the siege of Boston in 1775.  And yet the theme of the song has more to do with fashion than with fighting.
Sunday, February 9th
2) Home Sweet Home–by some accounts, this was the most popular American song of the 19th Century.  What does it say about the emerging culture of the famously restless American people that their favorite song was all about home?
Sunday, February 23rd
3) Tiger Rag–this, perhaps the first hit Jazz record, would immediately spawn major controversy.  Its story is really the story of the intersection of music, law, technology and society as the US entered World War One.
Sunday, March 1st
4) West End Blues–a world away from Tiger Rag, this may be the most sublime recording in the history of American popular music.
Sunday, March 8th
5) God Bless America–written during World War One and then all but forgotten, this song would emerge again just in time for World War Two.  It may be the most popular of all patriotic songs, despite its curious lyrical content.
Sunday, March 15th
6) Strange Fruit–one of the most ambitious and moving of all popular songs, “Strange Fruit” is also an enduring testament to the determination of Billie Holiday.  It may also be considered the first great protest song.
Dr. Daniel Breen is a professor of Legal Studies at Brandeis University. In the past fourteen years,  Dan has lectured at the Library about World War I, World War II, the Great Depression, the American Revolution, Prohibition, Supreme Court cases, the Civil War, the Roosevelts, great moments in science,  the Space Race and presidential campaigns. Dr. Breen has a BA from the University of Wisconsin,  a JD from the University of Georgia and a PhD in History from Boston College. He has taught at Framingham State University and Newbury College. 

 Thanks to the Friends of the Bedford Free Public Library for sponsoring this program. Free and open to the public.


Author: rcallaghan
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