Tuesday, January 20, 2015

god(s) bless amerika

"God Bless America" was written by the same atheist composer who composed “White Christmas” and “Easter Parade.”

“God Bless America” has roots in Tin Pan Alley. Irving Berlin originally wrote the song in 1918 as the finale to an all-soldier revue called Yip, Yip, Yaphank, but he ultimately decided not to include it, storing it in his trunk of discarded songs.

When Irving Berlin rediscovered his old song in 1938, he had been looking for a “peace song” as a response to the escalating conflict in Europe. He made changes to it and gave it to radio star Kate Smith to perform on her radio show on the eve of the first official celebration of Armistice Day—a holiday originally conceived to commemorate world peace and honor veterans of the Great War. In announcing the song’s premiere on her radio show, Kate Smith declared, “As I stand before the microphone and sing… I’ll be praying with every breath I draw that we shall never have another war.”

It was boycotted by the Ku Klux Klan because Irving Berlin was a Jewish immigrant (born Israel Baline, the son of a Jewish cantor who fled persecution in Europe). Some questioned his right to evoke God (Jesus) and to call the United States his “home sweet home.” In 1940, the song was boycotted by the KKK and the Nazi-affiliated German American Bund.

“God Bless America” was added to the seventh inning stretch after the September 11th attacks in 2001. Since 1940, it was played at every Brooklyn Dodgers home game. In 1966, the Chicago White Sox briefly replaced the national anthem with “God Bless America,” a song the team felt was easier for fans to sing, though Irving Berlin himself urged the team to return to the national anthem.

It appeared in the film “This is the Army” (1943), starring Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan the first politician to intertwine [or perhaps confuse] politics and religion and he made copious use of the phrase “God Bless America” at campaign rallies and presidential events.

“God Bless America” has a commercial side, with royalties collected for any professional performance. Irving Berlin, in 1940, created the God Bless America Fund which donates the royalties to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (in the greater New York City area). The song will remain under copyright until the year 2034.

God Bless America: The Surprising History of an Iconic Song, music scholar Sheryl Kaskowitz

see also: http://ffrf.org/legacy/fttoday/2004/may/?ft=barker