Modern Songs Of War And Conflict
Keesing Collection on Popular Music and Culture
Modern Songs of War and Conflict explores how popular song has been used to respond to, shape, and make sense of armed conflict throughout American history. The materials span a century in sheet music, photographs, records, and research materials on popular music and America's wars of the twentieth century. The scope of this exhibit moves from the grand to the granular exploring personal narratives and global movements. Building from the work and research of Hugo and Wouter Keesing, the pages below use timelines, profiles, data stories, and linguistic analysis to delve into the underlying narratives of our holdings. This collection serves to highlight how popular music has provided a potent voice to resist, abet, and witness the manifold facets of war. To begin, click a conflict on the timeline below.
World War I
As Americans went to war in Europe at home Tin Pan Alley and Uncle Sam led the propaganda machine. This nationalistic fervor is seen in abundance in this collection's sheet music and print materials.
By the second World War radio and recorded music had become the mediums of the American public. This collection features a wide array of patriotic recordings made in service to the war effort.
During America's so-called Forgotten War, Popular music expanded its role to support and comment on the war effort in Korea in a variety of genres including country, blues, gospel, and pop.
One of America's longest wars, the Vietnam War saw a full spectrum of public response ranging from patriotic songs praising the green berets, to the anthems of the anti-war movement, to recordings made by soldiers while serving. This collection reflects the long history of the war recorded on vinyl, tape, cassette, and CD.
for nearly half a century, the specter of war loomed in the back of the minds of Americans. From nuclear novelty songs to flag-waving arena rock, this collection showcases the variety of responses to the Cold War cemented in song.
First Gulf War
fought in the wake of American skepticism about Vietnam, the popular songs of the Gulf War reflect this stance and are dominated by satire and novelty songs.