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Portraits — and Pot-Shots — in Song

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Long before we were being sold something (through advertising jingles) or somebody (through campaign ads), presidential campaign seasons brought out the songwriter in many a partisan.  This unique niche of Americana is celebrated in a new Library of Congress exhibition on the web, titled “Voices, Votes, Victory: Presidential Campaign Songs.”

The tradition of writing songs extolling the virtues or abhorring the flaws of candidates for our nation’s top office goes as far back as George Washington, the subject of a flattering song after he took office. 

The Library has a rich collection of such material to share, from sheet music for campaign ditties to copies of “songsters,” pocket-sized music books candidates’ fans would turn to when they wanted to break out in song for any likely crowd.  The exhibition brings Internet researchers much of the same material that was displayed in an exhibition at the Library’s Music Reading Room from October, 2008 through early March, 2009.

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