Thursday, October 01, 2009

Songs About Presidents

A lot of conservatives are up in arms about school children singing a song about President Obama. Some of those in an uproar are conservative homeschoolers, so it was ironic that I stumbled on this site geared toward Christian homeschoolers when researching this post.

Songs of The US Presidents by Sue Dickson will help your child learn all about the presidents from Washington to Clinton. Includes a lyrics sheet and an Interactive Presidential Portraits chart.

 More songs about Presidents found at Songs for Teaching.

Hooray for Mister Lincoln.
Hooray for Mr. Washington.
They helped to make our country great.

Hooray for Mister Lincoln.
Hooray for Mr. Washington.
Now is the time to celebrate.
I’m proud to be an American,
proud of the red, white and blue, oo

Hooray for Mister Lincoln.
Hooray for Mr. Washington.
Happy birthday to you.

(Verse 1)
President John F. Kennedy,
came to office in 1960.
He said that all should be
treated right
in public facilities,

no matter if your black or white.
He said this too:

(Chorus 1)
"Ask not what your country, can do for you.
Ask what you can do for your country."
"Mankind must put an end
to war or war will put

an end to mankind."

(Verse 1 again)
President John F. Kennedy
came to office in 1960.
He said that all should be treated right
in public facilities,

no matter if your black or white.

President John F. Kennedy,
said, "ask what you can do for your country."

School children have been singing songs about Presidents for years. So why the outrage over a  song about President Obama?

Some people claim it's because he is a sitting President. Apparetly they wouldn't have a problem with these songs if Obama were out of office.  One commenter said
Like it or not Obama is our sitting president, and NO child as apart of public school function, or during public school hours should be singing the praises of our sitting president. I would say the same if McCain, Bush, or any other Republican was in office. I would say the same if any other democrat was in office as well. 

But in 2006 school children did sing a song praising President George W. Bush, Congress and FEMA at the  Annual White House Easter Egg Hunt.

Our country’s stood beside us
People have sent us aid.
Katrina could not stop us, our hopes will never fade.
Congress, Bush and FEMA
People across our land
Together have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!

Others insist it's the fact that the song is sung to a religious tune But song writers have been borrowing catchy musical tunes for their lyrics for ages.

"Greensleeves" is an old English ballad by an unknown composer. Legend has it that King Henry VIII wrote the song about Anne Boleyn, but this is unlikely because of the style of the music. The song is written in an Italinate style which did not appear in England until after Henry VIII's death.

Around 1865, William Chatterton Dix (1837-1889) wrote What Child Is This to John Stainer's (1840-1901) arrangement of Greensleeves. 

Perhaps the greatest case in point is the New Seekers' "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke", from 1971, the most memorable of Coke jingles, at least for anyone in my generation, to whom the song became a childhood hymn.

The jingle was so popular that the ad was hastily rewritten into an actual pop hit, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing," with lyrics celebrating Coke replaced by Madison Avenue's idea of hippie-isms.

So what exactly is the problem with school children singing a song about President Obama our FIRST African-American President to celebrate Black History Month & Presidents Day?


  1. I love your posts on this topic. Gread work!

  2. I decided a couple weeks ago to teach my kids "God Bless the U.S.A." by Lee Greenwood. I wasn't 100% certain of the verses so I clicked on a sing-a-long version on YouTube. It had the lyrics superimposed over patriotic photos. Most of them were totally innocuous but I just about died when the line in the chorus "And I'll proudly stand up next to you" was superimposed over a photo of George W. Bush!

    What a total cliche: the kids in the government-run school being indoctrinated with pro-Obama propaganda and the homeschooled kids being (unwittingly) indoctrinated with pro-Bush propoganda.

  3. First off, I'm Canadian and I don't recall ever having learned a song about any of our Prime Ministers (except the vulgar little playground ditty to a particular prime minister that gave 'the finger' to the West). Yeah, I guess we Canadians are just too boring to learn our prime ministers in such a fashion??? Who knows.

    But I do recall my mother teaching me certain songs to learn the US presidents - which was a requirement when she was a young student here in Canada...

    So when I first heard the "outrage" many people felt about students singing the praises of Obama, I honestly did have to laugh. Even up here in the north I knew that the praises of presidents has been going on for a very long time, sitting president or not.

    It is funny how political parties and political beliefs will twist what ever to fit what the party/belief happens to be...How suddenly whole generations are 'forgetting' the songs they sang when they were young.

    I guess Americans and Canadians are not so different. We each have to deal with the politics of everything...

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