My friend Wally Podrazik, who's curator of Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications, and a maven of TV -- he's co-written several books on it with another fellow I knew from Northwestern, Harry Castleman -- has an interesting article about an obscure, but fascinating song, "The Freedom Train."
It was written after World War II, he notes, to rally post-war enthusiasm, and features Peggy Lee, songwriter Johnny Mercer (a wonderful singer), Benny Goodman, and Margaret Whiting, along with the group The Pied Pipers. But most interesting of all may be that it's written by Irving Berlin.
Now, it's not interesting that Irving Berlin would write an upbeat, toe-tapping patriotic song. After all, this is the man who wrote "God Bless America," "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor," and "This is a Great Country" which ends with the line, "If this is flag-waving, flag-waving, can you think of a better flag to wave?!!" But as you listen to the rallying-cry patriotic lyrics, you sit up sort of stunned -- in today's environment -- to hear Mr. Patriotism write lines like --
"If you hate the laws you're obeying, you can shout your anger to the crowd."
"You can shout your anger from a steeple."
"You can always question We the People"
All because you're riding "The Freedom Train."
It's a rallying cry for dissent, in order to show how patriotic you are and love freedom. Would that the message got through to more people.
Check out Wally's article here. He has a link to the song in it, but to make things easier -- perhaps you'll want to dance along as you read -- here it is below.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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