From "Rosie the Riveter" to "Der Fuehrer's Face:" Using Popular Music to Understand American Culture During World War II, 1939-1945
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The story of American popular music during World War II begins before Pearl Harbor. Shortly after war broke out in Europe in 1939, war-related songs imported from England were published in the United States. American popular songwriters began penning war-conscious songs in September 1940, when Congress established the first peacetime draft and "the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" became a buck private. Because so many war-themed songs appeared before America's declaration of war, American popular music in World War II can be defined as music written in the United States between 1939 and the war's end in 1945, including both the hit songs-because they reached the widest audience-and the less-popular songs that failed to find resonance with listeners during the war. Although some of these songs have become timeless, all of them were written at an extraordinary moment of American history and are very much rooted in that time.