“White House Blues”: Music of the Political Process
The American political process has been intertwined with music as long as there has been a United States of America. From "Follow Washington," one of many songs written in praise of George Washington, to the popular theme songs used by present-day candidates, every election cycle has had its accompanying soundtrack. Before mass media made it possible for candidates to spread the message across the nation simultaneously, campaign songs, often set to other popular melodies, were used to reach broad populations, especially those that could not read newspapers. Natural accompaniments to political campaign songs are political satire and protest songs, and both categories are represented here by folk singer Joe Glazer and civil rights leader Hollis Watkins. Glazer, Oscar Brand, and Peter Janovsky each recorded albums of presidential campaign songs that, along with the other songs presented here, are part of the catalog of Smithsonian Folkways.