December 31, 2000
That was the last day of the 20th century and it ended 15 years ago and counting.
And I lived through almost half of it. Now this really dates me. Come to think of it, if you count the birth of our nation as 1776, next year, I will have lived through a quarter of American history!
Let's go back to the turn of the century. Not 2001. The other century.
January 1, 1901
That was the day the 20th century started. And thirty years later they were singing the blues, literally - the Twentieth Century Blues (1931), as shown below from the Noel Coward play, Cavalcade (1931).
The story follows a quintessential British family through the times of the early 20th century, including the death of Queen Victoria (1901), the sinking of the Titanic (1912), and World War One (1914-1918). For a plot summary of the movie version, check out: Cavalcade (1933) - Plot Summary - IMDb
20th Century Blues?
The first few decades of this century had its dark days. And the rest of the first half of the century was not much brighter. The Noel Coward play, Cavalcade, ended in 1929, which was the beginning of The Great Depression (1929-1939), the worst depression in recent history. And that only ended with the coming of World War Two (1939-1945), the worst war of the 20th century.
The last half of the 20th century?
We baby boomers have our songs, too, which continue these blues in the form of rock music. For example in the spirit of the 20th century, Billy Joel composed and performed We Didn't Start the Fire (1989) from his album Storm Front. Its lyrics are chuck full of 40 years of history:
1949 - 1989
It hits the major wars, US presidents, world leaders, world tensions, the culture, leaps in science and technology, triumphs and angst of the age.
(reference: https://youtu.be/cDPnsTRAvIM )
The 20th century has been quite a ride. And the Billy Joel song gives a quick history lesson as well as a taste of the times. And if you didn't catch it all,
* here is a link to the lyrics: Billy Joel - We Didn't Start The Fire Lyrics | MetroLyrics
* and facts: We Didn't Start the Fire (Facts) History Summary from 1949-1989 by Ron Kurtus - Lessons Learned from History: School for Champions
Ballads, songs, music of an era bridges time and space. And it keeps the culture of a people
going on and on and on ...
Previous posts in the Culture 101 series:
Culture 101 (part 1) - Reagan's Challenge (2012)
Culture 101 (part 2) - Easter Eucatastrophe (2012)
Culture 101 (part 3) - Paul Revere's Ride (2012)
Culture 101 (part 4) - Gold Diggers and the Great Depression (2012)
Culture 101 (part 5) - Blue Bloods and 9/11 (2012)
Culture 101 (part 6) - Gilligan's Island and Breast Cancer Awareness (2012)
Culture 101 (part 7) - Band of Brothers (2013)
Culture 101 (part 8) - Snow White (2013)
Culture 101 (part 9) - Father Knows Best (2013)
Culture 101 (part 10) - Summertime! x 3 (2013)
Culture 101 (part 11) - Native American Osmosis (2013)
Culture 101 (part 12) - Thanksgivukkah (Thanksgiving and Hanukkah) (2013)
Culture 101 (part 13) - Coventry Carol (2013)
Culture 101 (part 14) - World War I - that Golden Summer of 1914 (2014)
Culture 101 (part 15) - Persevering and Prevailing during Dark Days (2014)
photo from: wikipedia/Chagall_IandTheVillage