Monday, July 4, 2011

The House I Live In

I'm always annoyed when anti-American songs are played during 4th of July fireworks displays just because they have the words "American" or "USA" in the chorus. "American Woman" and "Born in the USA" are about as patriotic "The Internationale."

Even worse are the seemingly pro-USA tunes that actually have a creamy sinister center.

In 1975, my elementary school music teacher taught us the Frank Sinatra hit "The House I Live In" for a jingoistic (I'm sure that's how she referred to it in the teacher's lounge) recital. If you think "The House I Live In" is annoying when the Chairman of the Board croons the insipid melody you should hear it when a bunch of bored ten-year-olds try to out shout the ballad.

I decided to hop on to YouTube to find the Sinatra version but was stunned when a video of Paul Robeson appeared on the list.

I said to my husband, "Robeson?! Did my 5th grade teacher force a bunch of inner-city kids to sing a Commie song?!"

Sure enough, we found this little bit of information on Wikipedia.
The lyrics were written in 1943 by Abel Meeropol under the pen name Lewis Allen. (Meeropol later adopted Michael and Robert, the two orphaned sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg after the 1953 execution of the couple.)
Adopted the Rosenberg kids?! He wasn't just a Commie he was a Super Commie! I'm surprised he didn't wear a cape.
The music was written by Earl Robinson. Robinson was later blacklisted during the McCarthy era for being a member of the Communist Party. He also wrote campaign songs for the presidential campaigns of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Henry Wallace, and, in 1984, Jesse Jackson.
My head, she spins.

Thanks Mrs, G! I hope you had fun manipulating your little useful idiots.

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