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History in Review

500 Best-Loved Song Lyrics

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500 Best-Loved Song Lyrics
Collected and Edited by Ronald Herder. (Dover Publications, Mineola, New York: 1998. Pg. 403.) ISBN: 0-486-29725-X.

Reviewed by Angela Evans - May 8, 2009

A song is a song - except when you have a single line running through your head ad nauseam, and you can't remember how the rest of the song goes. If this situation sounds familiar, or if you happen to know one verse of a song, but cannot remember the rest, help is on the way! 500 Best-Loved Song Lyrics is a compendium of mostly American, historic song lyrics that were collected and edited by Ronald Herder.

Lyrics in this collection range from patriot songs, cowboy songs, and lullabies to folk songs, spirituals, and sea chanties. This is a book of lyrics only, musical notations are not included and annotations are sparse. While all songs are titled, other details such as the author, date of publication, and type of song are only listed when known.

Historians will find this book useful because within its pages you'll find many historically important songs ranging from World War I standards such as You're in the Army Now and Mademoiselle from Armentieres, to Civil War Marching songs such as Rally 'Round the Flag, and Colonial tunes, including all eight verses of Yankee Doodle. You'll also find a nice selection of patriot songs including Rule, Britannia, The Battle Cry of Freedom, and O Canada!. You'll also discover numerous children's songs, as well as songs from Tin Pan Alley and Broadway shows.

The songs in this collection are organized alphabetically by title. There is no indexing available, which makes it a little difficult to find a song if you don't know its title. However, this fault is ameliorated by the fact that this may force you to scan through the book looking for the lyrics to the song you are after - along the way you are sure to discover a host of long lost favorites and some you may never even have heard before - making your search through this book a real adventure.

In short, 500 Best-Loved Song Lyrics is a fantastic collection of songs, that will delight not only historians and researchers, but also anyone who happens to like to belt out a tune now and then. To wet your whistle, here is a list of some of my favorites that I discovered within the pages of this timeless book:
Related Reviews:

Songs of the Civil War, compiled and edited by Irwin Silber.
A Collection of 125 Civil War songs that includes an historical introduction, illustrations, scores for easy piano, guitar chords, plus all the verses.

When This Bloody War is Over, by Max Arthur.
Soldiers' Songs of the First World War - Historically annotated lyrics to nearly 100 songs from The Great War.

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