Monday, November 16, 2015

Music that invokes feelings of coming to America or living in America long ago

I am sure, as genealogists, we often like to put ourselves in the shoes of some of our relatives and imagine what it must have felt like to arrive on American soil; how they lived out their first few years in a new country and experience new technologies, scenery and culture that was all around them. They may have felt alienated and yet excited all at once.

Lots of music from today's movies and Broadway shows can help illustrate the era when our relatives came to America. Some movies indirectly give us the feeling, such as "Titanic," where we see how the many immigrants lived in the cheapest quarters on board the ship. We can get a glimpse of how they may have dressed, entertained and lived in such conditions. And, well, if your family was well off enough to enjoy 2nd class or 1st class accommodations, then we also get a very good idea of what that was like, too.

That is just one example of how movies and Broadway shows can give us an idea of the immigrant experience. There are many more. I thought I'd share a few YouTube videos of some songs/snippets that give us a "feeling" of what it was like to be in their shoes:

"Ragtime" 1997-1998 Broadway Cast Musical -

"An American Tail" - Main Title

"A Little Princess" - Breakfast

"Little Women" - Under the Umbrella (not an immigrant movie, but the feeling of the American spirit can really stir you listening to this soundtrack, or gain a feeling of what it was like for our relatives living during the American Civil War)

"Fried Green Tomatoes" - Theme (A great soundtrack that instantly pulls you into a nostalgic era from the 1920's-1930's - again, not an immigrant experience, per se, but evoking a certain time period that your relatives lived in)

"Forrest Gump" - Theme (This soundtrack evokes a feeling that you are stepping back in time - Alan Silvestri did a wonderful job of adding such a light touch to the notes played on the piano, just like the feather that was flying away in the movie)


I hope some of these soundtracks add a little depth to your research. Sometimes listening to these help me along my way, inspiring me a little to go in different directions because of the mood the music puts me in. 

Music is so powerful in our lives and how it shaped our ancestors lives is also important.