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Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest, and the Music That Made a Nation

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,093 ratings  ·  271 reviews
A celebration of America and the music that inspired people and illuminated eras, from the Revolutionary War to the present, by Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham and Grammy winner Tim McGraw.
From "The Star Spangled Banner" to "Born in the U.S.A.," Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw take us on a journey through the eras and the music that helped to shape a nation. Meacham writes a
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 11th 2019 by Random House
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Christopher I made a 200+ song playlist companion for Songs of America on YouTube:
The songs are in the order in which th…more
I made a 200+ song playlist companion for Songs of America on YouTube:
The songs are in the order in which they are mentioned in the book. (less)

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Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest, and the Music that Made a Nation by Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw is a 2019 Random House publication.

I love reading books about music history. Naturally, this book piqued my curiosity, but I had no idea what to expect from it.

At first it was a little dry, but as we marched on through history, it got more interesting. There are so many great songs that reflect the feelings of more than one side of any given situation.

The book highlights the fact that there h
Diane S ☔
3.5 From George Washington and the American Revolution to the present, Meacham charts the music and what it meant during that time period. Music has the ability to make one recall a specific time and place, to elicit sadness and joy, pride and pain. When a song is played it sparks a memory, and often, at least for me, I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the don't was played. Washington recognizes the importance of song, and used it to keep his men marching on. My country ...more
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Tone deaf. Unable to “ carry a tune in a bucket.” Doesn’t matter. We sing. We sing in church. We sing at concerts. We sing in the car. Music is important to us.
Historian Jon Meacham and country artist Tim McGraw look at the role music has played throughout the development of the U.S. in Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest and the Music that Made a Nation. From the Liberty Song in 1768 to Only in America in 2005, we have relied on songs to make our views known, to inspire others to join us and
Jul 16, 2019 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
For an audiobook, what a missed opportunity!

This had the potential to be a truly great audiobook. Given the format, I was expecting that excerpts of the songs would be added to the audiobook recording. To my surprise, Tim McGraw read the lyrics. Without performances of the songs, this is sadly a pretty lackluster audiobook. I returned on Libby before finishing because this just didn't live up to its potential.
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Oh, I so enjoyed reading this book! From the beginning with the beautiful and inspirational Overture on The History of Music by Jon Meacham, I did not want to stop reading this history of America through music.

Music brings a deep association with the events and places I have experienced. When I hear a song I can place myself in a specific place and point in time. The Green Berets by Barry Sadler came out when I was fourteen. It had pride of country and was an appealing march. I bought a ceramic
Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest, and the Music That Made a Nation was a delightful book to read over the Independence Day weekend, as it was a journey of America's history brought to life through its songs. From the music during the American Revolution and the War of 1812 to songs of the Civil War and the fight for civil rights and the abolition of slavery, featuring Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Also explored in music was the long struggle for the cause of women's suffrage and e ...more
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let's be clear about one thing: This is not a songbook. Lyrics, when they appear, accompany the historical narrative written by co-author Jon Meacham with occasional sidebar insights by country music star Tim McGraw (a friend and neighbor of Meacham). Some of the songs mentioned are of praise, others of protest - but all (ahem!) underscore what was happening at various times of crisis from the Revolutionary War to the Great Depression, 9/11 and more.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of music; history,
This was kind of a dud for me. I love music and I always love learning about a song's history, but this fell flat (pun intended). Some songs had tons of info about them, others had just brief mentions. Protest songs of the Vietnam era were largely limited to CCR's "Fortunate Son", despite there being several other anti-war songs from that time. The Kent State shootings were mentioned, but not the "Ohio" song by Crosby, Stills and Nash, at least not that I could see.

Even older patriotic songs wer
May 30, 2020 rated it liked it
*GoodReads Giveaway*
It took me some time to get into this. I was hoping to get it in time to celebrate our local music fest. I wanted to immerse myself in music, its celebration and what it meant for our times. I had this vision in my head that I was going to turn this book into part of my adventure. I was going to read this book and parcel out its historical significance while experiencing the music of our current times to see how it spoke to our current times. Whether the music was a point of
Jul 08, 2020 rated it liked it
As I read this book, I listened to and sang along with YouTube videos. Having grown up in rocking town, I enjoyed the chapter where the writers discussed folk rock and soul music. I had to make myself stop listening to the music so I could finish the book. So many good memories.

Read with GR Non Fiction Book Club.
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From "The Liberty Song" of John Dickinson, to "Born in the USA" by Bruce Springsteen, this book goes through the highlights of America's political history in song. Music, as it turns out, was as important to the political theory of George Washington as it was to MLK. Music may not start a movement, but no movement can succeed long or against great odds without powerful songs to motivate and inspire its followers, and sometimes, even convert its opponents. In the 1950s, when Civil Rights activist ...more
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everything from the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy” to “Born in the USA” and “I’m Proud to be American” and all the songs in between. Our Patriotic songs, protest songs, songs that reflected the America’s highs, the guided through our hard times, and often sent us off to war. This is a history of America through its music. A very interesting take on who we were and who we have become. Primarily written by John Meachem with some input in the songs themselves by Tim McGraw.
May 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Biographer Jon Meacham and country music artist Tim McGraw make an unlikely writing team, but the two paired up to write a book about American music. The book's focus is on patriotic songs and songs of protest. Beginning with songs of the Revolutionary War period and extending into recent times, the two examine the songs that struck a chord with our nation. Included in the volume are songs from slavery and from the civil rights era, songs supporting women's suffrage, and other similar occasions. ...more
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic book! It surprised me how much I enjoyed the history lesson that this book really is. It kept the stories entertaining and basic enough to not bore anyone. The photos were fantastic and I loved learning about all the songs too.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now a days we take music and the meaning for granted. This book was kind of the history of music and some songs that impacted our country all these years later. The authors did an amazing job at doing research and telling the story of some well known songs and how they came about. Some of these songs I grew up singing and can’t ever remember where they came from. Like most some of the stories told in this book we were taught in school and others I don’t ever remember hearing. It gives me a whole ...more
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't simply read "Songs of America."
Have YouTube close by so you can listen to U.S. history while you relive it — and sometimes learn that history — through its music.
Author Jon Meacham colors the highlights of America's past with anecdotes and insight, plus lessons that needed to be learned — and in some cases still need to be learned. It's anything but the boredom inducing tomes of history class.
And songster Tim McGraw adds context from the musical world to many of the key pieces that played
Tammy Buchli
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a fun book! I enjoyed reading about the songs, some familiar to me and others not, which made our country. The format of the book was accessible, moving more or less chronologically from the American Revolution to the aftermath of 9/11.
I appreciated the diversity of songs discussed - songs by indigenous peoples, the spirituals sung by enslaved people, anthems sung by suffragists and civil rights activists, patriotic songs and protest songs.
I also enjoyed he sidebars by Tim McGraw, which b
Jul 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I was randomly selected by Random House to receive a free copy. This did not impact my review. First of all, the publisher did not stint on this book. The cover is sturdy and the paper is heavy weight glossy - don't drop this one on your foot. To be honest, I was expecting songs with some history thrown in for perspective. Instead, I read a book on American politics. I learned things I had not known so the time was not wasted but this was not the book I had anticipated reading. From the notes to ...more
I thought this book was going to delve more deeply into the particular history of American songs, but I found myself enjoying it quite a bit (and the archival photos are fabulous). Meacham is a great writer and it's clear that he was attempting to find something with which to connect us in the turmoil of America's current dangerously divisive climate. His own political opinions seep through from the Reagan years onward, but even those chapters are written with a gentle, nearly bipartisan touch. ...more
Sandy Lane
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always loved my American History classes in my youth so I am perhaps impartial. This book was a wonderful history lesson mapping songs most impactful from the beginning of the US with historic events. The pictures and added context boxes with Tim McGraw breaking down the music meaning was really good. Glad this caught my eye at the library!
Jul 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
3.75 stars

Very interesting look at the history of music in America (got a bit dry in spots, especially early parts of the book discussing the Revolutionary War). I was surprised how many songs I wasn't familiar with, but found most of them on UTube.
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing - I expected more (or different). Too much history, not enough music.
Ann T
I made several notes throughout this book. But before I mention them I wanted to comment that before we moved the family, to TN 3 years ago, my kids went to a public charter school, John Adams Academy, in CA. They wore uniforms in Red, White, & Blue, said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, and sang patriotic songs daily. The school used teaching skills based on the founding fathers and rarely used actual books. When we moved to TN, my kids teachers were so impressed with my kids intellect a ...more
J.J. Lair
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There were things I thought this would be that it isn’t. I thought they would pick a dozen songs and tell how they tell the bigger picture. They actually mention many more songs and dozens of artists. I also thought musician Tim McGraw would dissect lyrics or why songs are played the way they are. Is this better on guitar vs. piano? Fast vs. slow. From the format of the book, McGraw has these asides where he really adds fluff.
There was a lot of good here. I looked up and discovered some new son
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Art by: NY Times, book review, June 25, 2019
“… music as an unsung force in our nation’s history.” — Doris Kearns Goodwin, blurb, back cover

Fun. This book falls between a coffee-table book and a history book. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, you will find something to like in here. The great standards, folk and protest music drew me to the book. In all, we learn about a couple hundred songs with their roots, context and influences.

The book published in June without a word about the songs or the coarsening culture over the pas
Ilene Harris
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book, reading it slowly, so much great stuff, we really need this when the politics are so bad today.
Anna Paula
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved to learn about the history of some of my favorite songs as well as to learn more about American history.
Connie Ciampanelli
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A Christmas gift from dear friends, Songs of America, by Pulitzer Prize winning historian Jon Meacham and country music artist Tim McGraw, traces the thread of patriotic and protest music from the American Revolution, to the War of 1812, to the Civil War, the fight for women's suffrage, WWI, The Great Depression, WWII, the struggle for civil rights, Viet Nam, and 9/11. This marvelous book illustrates how music is at the core of America's history, of America's heart, of America's soul.

From the "
Ted Hunt
This book takes on a very large task: providing an overview of American protest music from the time of the American Revolution to the period of the 21st century culture wars. I think that this was a bit too much for a book of 230 pages, as its treatment of the subject matter was rather uneven. There were snippets of political history, but not enough to always provide a good backdrop for the music. Some, but not all, singers had short biographies provided. Some songs had their lyrics included in ...more
patrick Lorelli
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book is written by a historian and a musician. The musician being Tim McGraw, McGraw gives his point of view from a songwriter of the musician side while the historian gives you the origins of the song. The song could be from the Revolution to the civil war, then moves on to World War one and mixed in there are also protest songs. You have “Brother Can You Spare a Dime” to “Happy Days Are Here Again”, one being the beginning of the depression and one after. You also have songs from the sixt ...more
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Jon Meacham is the editor of Newsweek, a Pulitzer Prize winning bestselling author and a commentator on politics, history, and religious faith in America.

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