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Songs of America

Patriotism, Protest, and the Music That Made a Nation
Narrated by: Jon Meacham, Tim McGraw
Length: 7 hrs and 40 mins
5 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A celebration of American history through the music that helped to shape a nation, by Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham and country music legend Tim McGraw.

“Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw form an irresistible duo - connecting us to music as an unsung force in our nation's history.” (Doris Kearns Goodwin)

Through all the years of strife and triumph, America has been shaped not just by our elected leaders and our formal politics but also by our music - by the lyrics, performers, and instrumentals that have helped to carry us through the dark days and to celebrate the bright ones. 

From “The Star-Spangled Banner” to “Born in the USA”, Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw take listeners on a moving and insightful journey through eras in American history and the songs and performers that inspired us. Meacham chronicles our history, exploring the stories behind the songs, and Tim McGraw reflects on them as an artist and performer. Their perspectives combine to create a unique view of the role music has played in uniting and shaping a nation.  

Beginning with the battle hymns of the revolution, and taking us through songs from the defining events of the Civil War, the fight for women’s suffrage, the two world wars, the Great Depression, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and into the 21st century, Meacham and McGraw explore the songs that defined generations, and the cultural and political climates that produced them. Listeners will discover the power of music in the lives of figures such as Harriet Tubman, Franklin Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr., and will learn more about some of our most beloved musicians and performers, including Marian Anderson, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington, Carole King, Bruce Springsteen, and more.  

Songs of America explores both famous songs and lesser-known ones, expanding our understanding of the scope of American music and lending deeper meaning to the historical context of such songs as “My Country, ’Tis of Thee”, “God Bless America”, “Over There”, “We Shall Overcome”, and “Blowin’ in the Wind”. As Quincy Jones says, Meacham and McGraw have “convened a concert in Songs of America,” one that reminds us of who we are, where we’ve been, and what we, at our best, can be.

©2019 Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“From hymns that swelled the hearts of revolutionaries to the spirituals that stirred citizens to spill blood for a more perfect Union and the blues- and country-infused beats that aroused change in the 1960s, Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw form an irresistible duo - connecting us to music as an unsung force in our nation's history. Songs of America is not just a cultural journey - it strikes our deepest chords as Americans: patriotism, protest, possibility, creativity, and, at the root of it all, freedom of expression enshrined in our founding document.” (Doris Kearns Goodwin)

“The civil rights movement couldn’t have happened without its music, and Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw have written a wonderful and moving account of how the sounds of America helped lead us toward what Dr. King called ‘the Beloved Community’. This book brings it all back for me - the struggles and the triumphs, the tough days and the transcendent ones.” (John Lewis) 

 “From the songs of the enslaved to the sounds of the civil rights movement, from ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ to Springsteen's ‘The Rising’ after 9/11, Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw have convened a concert in Songs of America. It is a glorious celebration of our diversity - and of the strength that comes from the myriad voices of all races that make us who we are." (Quincy Jones) 

What members say

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  • Overall
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Great Book & Storytelling, Wish Songs Were Sung

I love this audiobook and the narration by Meacham and McGraw. The story and purpose is important and I appreciate the work they have done. Meacham is a true storyteller that really draws you in. My only complaint is that the songs are read by Tim McGraw, where my expectation would have been that they were sung in the audiobook version. In the sample, McGraw sings but that is not carried out throughout the book.

I was lucky enough to attend the book tour and Tim McGraw performed renditions of some of the songs and from that experience, it would have been really great to mimic that experience with the audiobook.

That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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SO TIMELY TO HELP HEAL OUR COUNTRY.

This was a heart felt journey through America's historical challenges. Hopefully today's artists can cross the divide and help us heal.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Well done!

This is a well-done work of historical significance. It feels a little incomplete or maybe I was enjoying it so much that i didn't want it to end so soon. Of course there are songs that popped into my head instantly when it was over that I believe were just as significant as these in modern times, but I totally agree with the songs these gentlemen chose, very well done. Jon Meacham is a brilliant writer and narrator. Eventhough, I may not always agree with him politically, he leaves room for my opinion and seems to even respect it. Tim McGraw lends his talent and opinion in a whole different way, from an artist and fan's point of view. Once again you may not always agree with his opinion but he gives it in such a respectful manner that you understand from where he's coming because he even bares his soul about growing up in the deep South. The songs that you grow-up admiring or even still move you, the ones I call the wallpaper of your childhood, are great but only if you put their meanings in perspective. If you have a few hours that you want to spend learning a slice of not just music history but history in general, this is a good listen. That's my two cents worth.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful