American Music Post Pearl Harbor Incident

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Popular Music after the
Pearl Harbor Incident

In this essay I will be writing about the music listened to in the United States after the attack on Pearl Harbor in order to figure out how music has played a role in recovery or any other such matter after the crisis, because it would be interesting to see if there is a correlation to how we view music after crises of the present. Crises are occurrences in our lives where our ordinary train of thought becomes somewhat chaotic and disorientated. C. Murray Parks considers this a change in one’s assumptive world. These changes to one’s self can be considered important or unimportant depending on one’s own assumptive world (Parks 103). Once one determines the importance of the crisis, one can then try to deal with the changes in their own assumptive world, and in our case would be with music. In the following paragraphs I would like to consider the different popular songs of the 1940’s after the incident of Pearl Harbor and how each one of them may or may not portray a positive change towards ones assumptive world after a large scale crisis. In doing so we can compare such message in relation to how one may feel or want to feel towards crises in general. Finally, I would like to wrap up with a comparison or evolution of the crises music of today.

First off, the Pearl Harbor incident struck on December 7th 1941. This took the United States by surprise and caused major emotions to flow from its citizens. To many this was a national crisis. After the incident, musicians banded together through the tragic incident and created songs. Most of the popular genre of music at the time consisted of jazz, swing, and big band (Orchestra). The first song that came out only ten days after the incident was the song “Remember Pearl Harbor” by Don Reid. Being of the popular genres of the time, the melody and tempo of the song is really up beat (Reid 1942). The lyrics of the song state, “Let's remember Pearl Harbor / As we go to meet the foe” (Reid 1942). This indicates that though a crisis just happened, we should always remember the incident. At the same time the lyrics show that though the crisis was caused by the enemy, we must go “meet the foe” where ever they may be. As the song goes on we arrive at the lyrics that state, “We will always remember / how they died for Liberty / Let's remember Pearl Harbor / And go on to victory” (Reid 1942). In short this song deals with the crisis with immense patriotism. It honors the soldiers that have perished that day and insures that the United States will beat the foe gaining said victory.

Another correlated song with the Pearl Harbor incident is “The Son of A Gun Who Picks on Uncle Sam” composed by Lane Burtonand and Yip Harburg. The beginning of this song states, “The Army hates the bloomin’ sight of the Navy / And how the Navy hates the bloomin’ Marines. / But the Army and the Navy and Marines will take a stand / At the son of a gun who picks on Uncle Sam” (Burton 1942). This section of the song shows that though there may be internal conflicts within the United States, the conflicts are dissolved to fight against a common foe. The lyrics also go on to say, “Though our melting pot may boil red hot / With a thousand diff’rent types, / Though we Lefts and Rights may have our fights / We all stand pat out on the no-good rat / Who belittles the Stars and Stripes” (Burton 1942). Again, within this section of the song clarifies that the United States is made up of all sorts of people. These people may have their fights with one another; they are able to set their differences aside when there are enemies at hand. While keeping a rhyme pattern that repeats throughout the song, the lyrics certainly show signs of propaganda. Each so said verse of the song indicates some sort of internal struggle or conflict between different groups of the United States. Yet at the end of every verse there is a common group or the “son of a gun” that far exceeds the...
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