The Great American Songbook: A Conclusion
“Let me make the songs of a nation,” the Scottish statesman Andrew Fletcher declared in 1703, “and I care not who makes its laws.” This oft-quoted remark applies with particular force to the huge body of pre-rock popular songs written in the 20th century and now known collectively as the Great American Songbook. To a remarkable degree, a large number of these songs–most of them, interestingly, romantic ballads–have embedded themselves in the consciousness of the public, and have since come to be identified throughout the world with the American national character and way of life.
About the Author
Terry Teachout is COMMENTARY’s critic-at-large and the drama critic of the Wall Street Journal. Satchmo at the Waldorf, his first play, runs through November 4 at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut.