In a class this week, a professor talked about when she taught 7th grade social studies she only required her students to memorize what she deemed the five most important dates in US History. Granted, this is a fairly subjective move on the part of any teacher, since you can probably argue the importance of any date. But it got me thinking about Top Fives, like a blog that John used to keep in high school a la High Fidelity. But what top fives are we tackling here? Since I’m the resident social studies teacher-in-training, let’s do the US History and then find some dumb way to tie in my favorite music!
Top Five Years in United States History*
1607: Jamestown – You have to start at the beginning.
1776: Declaration of Independence – When in the course of human events… we kick ass and we’re not going to take your shit anymore.
1789: The Constitution – How centralized would you like your government? Medium-well, please. Oh, and I’d like a Bill of Rights on the side.
1861-1865: The Civil War – Of the people, by the people, for the people, including Black people.
1941-1945: World War II – Anywhere, anytime, we will beat you up. And drop bombs. Atomic ones. Also, don’t stand in the way of democracy – we’re talking to you Soviet Union.
*Honorable Mention: 1803, 1877, 1929, 2001. I’ll let the historians out there guess why.
So where’s the musical transition… hmm…
It’d be pretty tough to pick a Top 5 songs for US History, given that so much of [my] musical awareness is limited to the past fifty years, a mere fraction of the real history behind the country. Also, the choices would be as varied as the number of authors who tried to tackle the subject. I suppose you could try to find a musical moment for each one in a rapid fire way. Since that’s what I’ve done so far, I can do that now.
I started to write up my responses in the body of this post, but then decided I could flesh it out a bit better by doing one year at a time. That way there can be more comments on individual years and you can debate my selection of the above dates on this post.
First up: Jamestown.