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History Lessons: Roots & Branches May 31, 2009


The view of the board at KGNU studios.

The view of the board at KGNU studios, Boulder, Colorado.

I host a program called “Roots & Branches” some Sunday mornings 9-11 a.m. on our local community radio station KGNU. The program is loosely based around American music, which I interpret as all recorded music in America that is blues, folk, country, gospel, soul, rock or bluegrass-based and whenever possible, played on acoustic instruments.

It’s a pretty big area from which to choose, but as one who is still amazed by the incredible depth and breadth of American music, it’s territory that I love exploring for program ideas.

This Sunday’s program was titled “History Lessons,” and it includes only songs that concern historical events or periods in U.S. history. After introducing the concept in the first set, the show follows a period the period from World War II to the fall of Saigon, with the songs interspersed with original audio clips of current events of the time.

As usual in this type of endeavor, I left off a batch of good songs that I forgot, couldn’t fit into the concept or the time frame. I received lots of good calls reminded me of songs I left off or forgot about, which means there is a chance I’ll get around to a Part Two sometime.

You can stream the program for a couple of weeks here.

“History Lessons” Set List

“Everett Ruess,” Dave Alvin, Ashgrove
“Sailing To Philadelphia,” Mark Knopfler, Sailing to Philadelphia
“Galveston Flood,” Tom Rush, Take a Little Walk With Me
“When That Great Ship Went Down?”, William & Versey Smith, Anthology Of American Folk Music
“True Story Of Amelia Earhart,” Plainsong, In Search Of Amelia Earhart
“Franklin D. Roosevelt, Poor Man’s Friend,” Willie Eason, Sacred Steel
“New Orleans Wins The War,” Randy Newman, Land of Dreams
“Eisenhower Blues,” J.B. Lenoir, Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues
“The Great Atomic Power,” The Louvin Brothers, Hillbilly Music…Thank God!
“The Merry Minuet,” Kingston Trio, The Kingston Trio at the Hungry i
“On Beatniks,” Carl Sandburg, The Beat Generation
“Little Boxes,” Malvina Reynolds, Washington Square Memoirs: Urban Folk (1950-1970)
“Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues,” Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 : Rare And Unreleased
“I Ain’t Marching Anymore,” Phil Ochs, Washington Square Memoirs : The Great Urban Folk Boom 1950-1970
“Fortunate Son,” Todd Snider, Long May You Run : 15 Tracks In The Key Of Neil
“Tears Of Rage,” The Band, Music From Big Pink
“Vietnam Blues,” Cassandra Wilson, Martin Scorsese Presents: The Best Of The Blues
“Okie from Muskogee,”  Merle Haggard, Vintage Collections Series
“What Is Truth,” Johnny Cash, The Legend
“Armstrong,” 2:40, John Stewart, American Originals
“Find The Cost Of Freedom,” Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Single
“Galveston,” Jimmy Webb, Ten Easy Pieces
“Lord God Bird,” Sufjan Stevens, Single
“Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight,” Plainsong, In Search Of Amelia Earhart
“Sail Away,” Randy Newman, Sail Away
“Talking Green Beret New Super Yellow Hydraulic Banana Teeny Bopper Blues,” Jaime Brockett, Remember The Wind And The Rain
“An Account Of Haley’s Comet,” John Stewart, Sunstorm

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