Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind


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And honestly I hadn't," Meacham says. One piece of music explored in the book is "Dixie," the controversial 19th-century song that came to be known as an anthem of the South. Its racist origins — it was originally written for white men to sing while in blackface, Meacham says — have forced Southerners like McGraw and Meacham to grapple with its role in Southern culture.

Cotton fields were the lifeblood of my community," McGraw says. We perform the song in the show, but we do it in a different way. Meacham says working on the book taught him something new about American history. On the "Liberty Song," written in , and how it compares with another from that period, "The Rebels". It was written eight years before the Declaration of Independence, and it had a real prescient view of what he thought our country could be and what it could become and what it could mean for future generations, which was incredible.

There's a line in that song: 'Our children shall inherit the fruits of our pain.

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It taunted the colonists. So the push and the pull and the rub, it gives you a real reflection on what was going on at the time and how that propelled things forward and how that propelled people to think and take action. There is a soundtrack to our aspirations. Jon Meacham: "The raw materials of history are the letters of an era, the newspapers of an era. I just hadn't thought enough about, 'What was the music they were singing? So that was the division there. You go to the songs of the enslaved, you go to 'Dixie' versus 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' — there's no more vivid manifestation of what Lincoln called 'the fiery trial' than those two songs.

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If you understand that 'Dixie' was written for a white guy pretending to be a black man singing nostalgically for enslavement, that puts that song exactly where it should be, which is in a place where it was a manifestation of the worst part of American history — one of the original sins. The first time Lincoln heard it, he simply said, 'Sing it again. You hear all of that in those songs in a way that I find incredibly affecting, not just as a Southerner but as a historian. On the complexities of performing "Dixie" as part of the book tour.

McGraw: "We wanted to attack it in a different way. And 'All My Trials' at the end really provides a perfect resolution to both of those songs, and that's the way we approach it live. Meacham: "This agency question about to what extent does it reflect and to what extent does it shape somebody like [Democratic Congressman] John Lewis, we interviewed him for the book, and Congressman Lewis said he couldn't imagine the civil rights movement without its music, that it wasn't music that made Rosa Parks do what she did on the 1st of December But that music once it happened kept those unimaginably young and brave folks moving through the storms of trying to apply Jefferson's sentence that we are all created equal more fully.

And according to Congressman Lewis, to me the most vivid moment where the powerless intersected with the powerful to move us forward came in March of , when Lyndon Johnson, after the violence at Selma and Bloody Sunday, a week later goes to the Congress and says, 'And we shall overcome. On the capacity for music's meaning to change and adapt over time. McGraw: "I think music throughout can also always be appropriated for different causes, and lyrically what it says in the content that the music has.

And sometimes like I said, we don't know that till years later when someone discovers a song and uses it for a different reason. That has been lifted, not just to lift a heart in a moment, but to lift a country for an age. And that's what this great music does. All men, Thomas Jefferson asserted, were created equal, with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind
Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind
Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind
Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind
Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind
Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind
Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind
Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind
Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind Ballads: Reflections from my Heart, Soul & Mind

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