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God Bless AmericaThe Surprising History of an Iconic Song$
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Sheryl Kaskowitz

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199919772

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199919772.001.0001

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Grateful That We’re Far from There

Grateful That We’re Far from There

Irving Berlin, Kate Smith, and the Forging of an Interventionist Anthem

Chapter:
(p.33) Chapter 2 Grateful That We’re Far from There
Source:
God Bless America
Author(s):

Sheryl Kaskowitz

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199919772.003.0002

Chapter 2 turns to the early compositional and interpretive decisions by Irving Berlin and Kate Smith that shaped the song into the anthem we know today. The changes that Berlin made in 1938 served to distance the song from its Tin Pan Alley roots and also reflect shifting opinions about intervention in the looming war in Europe. An analysis of recordings of Kate Smith’s early performances illustrates how interpretative and orchestration choices contributed to the song’s connection to war and its disassociation with popular music to become an unofficial anthem.

Keywords:   God Bless America, Irving Berlin, Kate Smith, composition, interpretation, anthem, intervention, war, orchestration

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