ABOUT AMERICAN VERNACULAR FOLKSONGS
“It is only when our old songs and old tales are passing from one human being to another, by word-of-mouth, that they can attain their full fascination. No printed page can create this spell. It is the living word—the sung ballad and the told tale—that holds our attention and reaches our hearts.” ~ Richard Chase
Silver, Burdett & Company a school music book publisher offered the nation Songs We Like to Sing Published in 1912.
Title Page - A collection of Familiar Songs and Hymns for High Schools and Normal Schools and for Assemblies Compiled and Edited by Birdie Alexander Supervisor of Music, Dallas
"Believing that there is a demand for a well balanced collection of familiar songs for assembly use--one designed primarily to give pleasure and inspiration rather than to teach music--this book has been compiled.
The fundamental idea underlying it has been to include only those songs which experience has shown that boys and girls of the North, South, East and West like to sing. Thus it avoids the defect common to many song collections, which contain a large amount of material that no one enjoys singing. It is confidently believed that there is no song in the book that cannot be sung and enjoyed in the average school.
Before compiling the collection the publishers obtained from many teachers in different states lists of the songs that appeared on the greatest number of individual lists. This selection was again submitted for criticism and suggestions to many different teachers and supervisors; the collection represents, therefore, the judgment and experience of many."
Song Lyrics Reflect Culture and help us examine our common social heritage as well as specific events in our personal life and in American History.
When you lose touch with the generation who knew the songs the child gets cut off from living history, and can feel disconnected. Parents, grandparents, great grands and great great grands won't live forever. As time goes by, each generation loses the connection since no one is alive that was there and remembers.
The youngest now called the Z generation is scared. They don't know why they should bother to learn anything, afterall, we are in a war, the planet is warming, the snow is melting, we're all going to die, and clearly there is no hope.
BUT YOU CAN TELL CHILDREN; ON THE OTHER HAND - SONGS GIVE ADVICE - ALWAYS HAVE - ALWAYS WILL
Folksongs sing about certain doom, and courage, they speak to historical moments encapsulated in each lyric. We find historical information on topical political, economic, and social factors like, natural disasters, sharecropping and tenant farming, mechanization, drought, offering detailed analyses of how these songs speak of and for their times.
Popular history, songs that turn into "national anthems," through oral tradition, cover versions and parodies, protest music, and promoting nationalist sentiment like "This Land is Your Land" showing of the dark side of the American dream and what meanings it may hold for us when we sing it today.
Issues of song ownership and appropriation, by both the individual and the collective, unions, sexism, women's rights, activists, class issues, strikes, violence, attitudes and approach towards racial issues, racial stereotypes, prejudices, using the n-word, racism in the Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican communities, as well as discrimination faced by white Okies.
Song told stories about people who rebelled against the status quo, like The Dalton Boys, Belle Starr, Jesse James, Pretty Boy Floyd, Tom Joad, Harriet Tubman, and Jesus Christ eventually replacing Western gunslingers with bankers and others who enforce the status quo in order to preserve unfair advantages.
Folksongs' continuing legacy in and influence on the current generation, and the timelessness of the social problems addressed by songs: hate crimes, lynching, legally sanctioned executions, these topics served to heighten public awareness of social injustices, thereby setting the stage for progress and change by reporting on the life lived by the "folk".