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Thursday, March 19, 2009

FDR songs + next book club meeting

A few weeks ago, we finally had our first meeting of our new American history book club for Jonathan Alter's The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope. Appropriately enough, we had it at the Old Stone House in Park Slope, one of our favorite local historical sites (see Deedle Deedle Dee-Endorsed Historical Resources to the right).

I decided to make the first meeting a public event after encountering endless difficulty in scheduling everyone who responded to my posts on local listserves. New York parents, like all parents, are super busy so scheduling something like this is going to be a challenge. But we'll keep trying, of course.

As it was open to the public, I created an event in which everyone -- readers of the book and not -- could participate. Basically it was a singalong of songs from the FDR era. I referred to the book in order to give context to certain songs, but really the songs were the meat of the meeting. Four families came, all with kids, so we turned it into sort of an FDR dance party. The kids shook shakers, banged on drums, and marched around the room; I gave some brief background lectures; it rocked. Here's our set list complete with keys if you'd like to re-create our party:

This Land is Your Land G
I Ain't Got No Home C
Tell Me Why You like Roosevelt 197 G
Red Cross Blues Blues in G
The Scottsboro Boys G Em Am D7 GGGG GD7G
Happy Days Are Here Again C
Roosevelt Blues Bb F7 Bb Cm F7 Bb
You Are My Sunshine D
I Could Write a Book C
Wildwood Flower G (capo 7) or D (capo 2)
Party Girl G

The songs that are unfamiliar are probably:

a) taken from Guido Van Rijn's incredible compilation of gospel and blues from the FDR era: Roosevelt's Blues. It's a CD and an accompanying book -- Google it and order it as soon as you can. Or visit us in Brooklyn and there's a good chance you'll hear the album playing while I cook dinner...

b) written by me -- "Party Girl" is song about Eleanor Roosevelt and her friend Lorena Hickock that will appear on the new Deedle Deedle Dees album that comes out in June. I won't say anything more about it except that I can't wait for you to hear the final recorded version.

Next book:
Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line
by Martha A. Sandweiss

Next meeting: Early April most likely