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Historians sometimes consider songs as more or less straightforward “reflections” of the society and culture in which they were produced. These songs are then used to illustrate what historians already think they know about that society and culture. Thus, an anti-drinking song like “Come Home Father” (1864) might be interpreted to mean that nineteenth-century Americans were concerned about alcohol and opposed to its abuse. On one level, this view of music makes sense: a musical work is a product and a part of the society and culture from which it emerges. But such a view is also highly simplistic. For one thing, it ignores the fact that songs exist in relation to other popular texts, including other songs. “Come Home Father," for example, inspired a sequel by another composer, "Father Don’t Drink any Now!” (1866) and both were part of the same musical universe as songs that treated drinking lightly, like “Pop, Pop, Pop. A Comic Song” (1868).


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