Tag: Fall2015

“Masters of War” by Bob Dylan

bob dylan
Val Wilmer/Redferns “Bob Dylan”

Bob Dylan has written some of the most well-known anti-war and pro Civil Rights songs to date. While most of his anti-war songs were originally written to protest the Vietnam War, many of them, including “Masters of War”, are still used to protest present-day wars. Dylan borrowed the arrangement for “Masters of War” from the song “Nottamun Town” recorded by folksinger Jean Ritchie. Dylan changed the lyrics and made it his own, although the lyrics were much more direct than most of his other songs. He was more emphatic in “Masters of War” with the message he wanted to convey: that the people with power in the government are at fault for the atrocities of war and all the unnecessary spilling of blood. Dylan was never so forthright in his other songs and he even surprised himself with the lyrics he used, stating “I’ve never written anything like that before. I don’t sing songs which hope people will die, but I couldn’t help it with this one.” Every line in this song is about how terrible these ‘masters of war’ are, and how Dylan can see through them, how he knows what they are doing in secret, how he hopes that they die and that Jesus doesn’t forgive everything they have done. Although this song was written during the time of the Vietnam War, the lyrics have been viewed as politically significant in many situations since then. Civilians continue to use this song in protests when they feel government authorities are misusing their power and that they are being treated unfairly. With the simple background music Dylan took for this song, the lyrics play the most important role. “The lyrics are powerful and unforgiving and they feel more intense because they are accompanied by this steady, calmer, background folk music” (WiB Team). “Masters of War” will always be an icon in the world of protest against wars that citizens feel are not right.
Emma Callesen


Team, WiB. “I CAN SEE THROUGH YOUR MASKS – EXPLAINING BOB DYLAN MASTERS OF WAR.” Words in a Bucket. N.p., 27 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

Sullivan, James. “Bob Dylan’s 10 Craziest Fans.” Rolling Stone. Val Wilmer/Redferns, 16 May 2014. Web. 08 Nov. 2015.

Dylan, Bob. Blowin’ in the Wind. Bob Dylan. Columbia Records, 1963. Web.

The Sinking of the Alabama

On Sunday June 19, 1864, the Confederate ship the Alabama captained by Raphael Semmes set sail for its final battle, a battle that would soon inspire generations of both songwriters and historians to come. However, the ship’s story began two years earlier in 1862 during the beginning American Civil War. Built in Liverpool, the Alabama spent almost the entirety of its two-year career in the waters around Great Britain; despite its short time in action, the Alabama managed to destroy or capture over 80 merchantmen – ships used for commerce – and one warship. By the time the Alabama was gearing up for its final battle, the ship had created an international reputation that both mystified and troubled its prospective enemies.

However, the confederate warship was not immortalized for its “single-handed war against Northern Commerce” but for its crew’s actions in their final moments in the Battle of Cherbourg against the Union ship the Kearsarge: the battle that sunk the Alabama. Although the battle would be counted as a Union victory, tales of the Alabama and its crew’s final moments gained far more glory. The crew of the Alabama became famous for their refusal to surrender even when their ship was damaged beyond all hope. A newspaper article from the Daily Cleveland Herald written on July 7, 1864, recounted that “with great bravery the guns were kept ported till the muzzles were actually underwater, and the last shot from the doomed vessel was fired as she was setting down.” It was not until the ship’s stern was completely underwater that Captain Semmes gave the orders for his men to “save themselves as best they could.”  It is estimated that the crew of the Alabama contained about 150 men and that 10 to 12 of the ship’s crew were killed during the Battle at Cherbourg.

The songs “The Alabama,” “Roll, Alabama, Roll” and “The Alabama and the Kearsarge” are just a few of the many pieces created by Confederate musicians to eulogize the ship’s final moments and more importantly to spread word of the crew’s immense bravery in a battle against an ironclad ship that far outmatched the firearms of the Alabama. In 1864, when the war was coming to a close, the Confederacy was trying with all its might to bolster the morale of its army and citizens. Captain Semmes and his crew became symbols of what the Confederacy needed most in this stage of the war, “No Surrender.”


Further Reading

Bowock, Andrew. CSS Alabama: Anatomy of a Confederate Raider. Rochester: Chatham Publishing; 2002. Print.

Robinson III, Charles M. Shark of the Confederacy. Annapolis: Naval Institute, 1995. 1-6, 135-149. Print.

The Sinking of the Alabama.” Daily Cleveland Herald [Cleveland, Ohio] 7 July 1864: n.p. 19th Century U.S. Newspapers. Web. 5 Oct. 2015.


Margaret Lawson

Jane Addams: Creating Social Reform Through Music, Leadership, and Advocacy

Jane Addams, one of the most prominent social reformers of the nineteenth century, worked to change the culture of immigrant and working class life in Chicago in the Progressive Era. Born in 1860, Addams grew up in a well-educated and politically-involved Illinois household, providing the basis for her future passion towards progressive ideals. After visiting Toynbee Hall settlement house in London as a young adult, Addams was inspired to take up a similar cause for the struggling residents of Chicago. Addams opened Hull house in 1889 with the goal of providing “a center for a higher civic and social life; to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises and to investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago” (“Jane Addams (1860–1935)”). Hull House welcomed women, children, immigrants, and laborers, and helped them to build a more stable life within the industrial city.

One way that Addams made Hull House stand apart was through her implementation of the arts into the curriculum, making it a distinguishing feature of the settlement as a whole. Residents of Hull House were strongly encouraged to take part in the arts, and the settlement quickly became known for the unique musical and artistic talent it produced. Addams pushed for music education for the residents because she believed that music is “the most potent agent for making the universal appeal and inducing men to forget their differences” (Addams 380). Addams brought on Eleanor Smith as head of the music school, and together they brought Hull House music into the public sphere through various publications and performances. In the foreword to Hull House Songs, a compilation of five politically-charged songs relating to the struggles of those residing within the settlement, Addams indicates her belief that music can offer “an escape from the unnecessary disorder of actual life”. Concerts were held every Sunday, and audience size increasingly grew week by week, allowing Hull House to spread its messages to the surrounding community (Vaillant).

Jane Addams continued beyond Hull House to create change across the United States with her assistance in various other social reform programs. Addams helped to found the National Child Labor Committee, served on the executive board for the NAACP, advocated pacifism through the Women’s Peace Party, and much more. She worked to better the lives of those similar to those she saw struggling every day at Hull House, and in 1931 won the Nobel Peace Prize, the culmination of Addams’ lifetime of service to others.


Addams, Jane. Twenty Years at Hull-House: With Autobiographical Notes. New York: MacMillan, 1912. A      Celebration of Women Writers. University of Pennsylvania. Web. 18 Oct. 2015.

Jane Addams. N.d. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington D.C. Jane Addams. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

“Jane Addams (1860–1935).” Open Collections Program: Immigration to the US,. Harvard University Library, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

Smith, Eleanor. Hull House Songs. Chicago: Clayon F. Summy, 1915. Print.

Vaillant, Derek. Sounds of Reform: Progressivism & Music in Chicago, 1873-1935. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2003. Print.


Diana Boone

Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter, the widely-recognized name associated with the popular American slogan and poster “We Can Do It!”, inspired millions of women to fill in the labor gap during World War I. Most women joined the workforce as blue collar laborers, working in factories that produced machinery or weaponry. Rosie the Riveter is most often associated with the iconic portrait by J. Howard Miller, however, the name of Rosie the Riveter came from the song “Rosie the Riveter” by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb in 1942 (Harvey). Although the slogan “We Can Do It” is associated with J. Howard Miller’s portrait (Harvey), it was the song that secured Rosie the Riveter’s place in history.

Gardner, Janet E. "Rosie The Riveter."
Gardner, Janet E. “Rosie The Riveter.”

The song “Rosie the Riveter” conveyed with urgency the need for women to join the American workforce, and expressed a new idea for its time- that women were capable of performing jobs traditionally held by men. With lines like “All the day long/Whether rain or shine/She’s a part of the assembly line,” and “That little girl will do more than a male will do” (Harvey), the song inspired the idea that women had just as important of a role as men in the war effort. The lyrics go on to describe Rosie’s boyfriend “Charlie” who serves in the Marines, and how she now fills his assembly line position(The Internet Archive), asserting Rosie is equal in every way to a man.

The song, written after Miller’s creation of the “We Can Do it!” image, created a context for and delivered a story to accompany the iconic Rosie the Riveter portrait, establishing women’s place in the blue-collar workforce both during and after World War II, and taking another step toward feminism in America.


Works Cited

Cook, Terri. “Rosie The Riveter NHP.” American Road 11.3 (2013): 78. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 17 Oct.                2015.

Gardner, Janet E. “Rosie The Riveter.” Salem Press Encyclopedia (2015): Research Starters. Web. 17 Oct.                  2015.

Harvey, Sheridan. “Rosie the Riveter: Real Women Workers in World War II.” <loc.gov>. The Library of                    Congress. 20 July. 2010. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.

The Internet Archive. “Rosie The Riveter.” <archive.org>. Audio. 17 Oct. 2015.


Austin Goodwin

“Over There”

Cohan front
George M. Cohan. “Over There.” New York: Leo Feist, Inc. 19–?, c1917. Music Score. Front Cover.

“Over There,” a patriotic piece of music from 1917 (Cohan 4) that encouraged American people of all ages to join the military during the beginning of World War I, was composed by George M. Cohan. Cohan was a singer, songwriter, actor, and playwright (Morehouse 178) from the early twentieth century who composed “Over There,” which has been referred to as “greatest song of the First World War” (Morehouse 17). Cohan’s “Over There” serves as a prime example of pro-American music during the First World War, and how such themes as patriotism worked into the realms of the everyday American life.

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“The Alabama,” a sample from peak of piano prominence when, due to massive music demand, sheet music popularity rises, quality of music falls

In 1864, when “The Alabama,” music composed by Fitz Williams Rosier and lyrics written by Edward King, was published, the piano was well-established as an instrument for music making at home and in small gathering places, such as churches and civic meeting halls. In 1851, 9,000 pianos were built and sold, and by 1860 that number had risen to 21,000. Weber_Piano_Fortes_-_1880s_Weber_Square_Piano_AdvertisementIncreasing hand-in-hand with the piano’s popularity, sheet music was in high demand. Often decorated with elaborate illustrations and given fancy titles, the front covers of sheet music were almost as important as the music contained inside, for the music itself could be of variable quality and similar to other pieces in an age when in response to commercial demand, composers’ goal was to release music as quickly as possible to create music that was accessible to the masses who were mostly beginner and intermediate pianist. A small benefit of the Civil War is that it offered fresh material for composers as the divided nation developed an interest in patriotic songs, such as “The Alabama.” IMG_2438This piece, characteristic of the era, has an ornate cover, displaying flowing lithography embellished with swirls, flourishes, and leafy designs. While the title is simply, “The Alabama,” after the Confederate ship the CSS Alabama that sunk at the Battle of Kearsage earlier in 1864, the cover provides additional information indicating that it is a “nautical song with piano-forte accompaniment…respectfully dedicated to the gallant Captain Semmes, his officers, and crew, and to the officers and seamen of the C.S. Navy.” True to the uncomplicated nature of pieces from this time, the music for “The Alabama” is simple. Containing eight-bar phrases in the key of F, it has an undemanding rhythm set to common time, and is, of course, written for the piano. With its cover art, title, and simple musicality, “The Alabama” portrays the prevailing trends among sheet music of the 1860s.

Elise Helton