With the Fourth of July just around the corner, there could not have been a better time for Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Jon Meacham, and celebrated country music star Tim McGraw to release their book, Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest, and the Music That Made a Nation. Originally published on June 11, 2019 the novel reached the New York Times Best Seller list last week– just in time for Independence Day. Though a seemingly unlikely pair, real life Nashville neighbors Meacham and McGraw worked together to unpack both well-known and abstract music that has shaped the United States. Meacham speaks of the historical significance behind certain songs from the American Revolution to modern day, and McGraw focuses on the singers and composers themselves. By touching on the lives of figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Aretha Franklin, and Bob Dylan, while including songs such as “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” and “Born in the U.S.A,” both authors shed light on the cultural and political impact music has had on the United States over time. In a note to the reader at the start of the book, the authors state how they
“hope that The Songs of America is the opening, not the closing, act in a conversation about the nation’s diversity and complexity. For that’s among the reasons we undertook the project: to inspire Americans to think more widely and more deeply about the country Abraham Lincoln called ‘the last best hope of earth.”
Hopefully, this book will not only spark your Fourth of July reading, but push you to consider the history of our nation, how our story has evolved, and the ways in which we want to compose our future.