A Tale of Two Ditties

The story of the United States, and of Britain to a lesser degree, has been told through popular music. The experience of the two countries, the issues they faced, and the nature of public responses are depicted directly or by allusion in songs, some of which have become standards. By coincidence, two songs that are related to historical problems of the countries are currently the topic of discussion. One, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” stems from the experience of the American South, from the universe of minority culture which has been an influence on general culture. The other, “We’ll Meet Again” brought to public attention by the death of the singer Vera Lynn, is a reminder of the peril faced by Britain in its fight against Nazi Germany. Despite the different cultural universe and historical context of the two songs they are similar in their expression of hope in the darkest hours of danger.  Both advance resistance to an enemy,...(Read Full Article)
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