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Favorite American Songs, and Illustrations

Favorite American SongsLast February, I came across a vintage fifties paperback called Favorite American Songs at a huge book sale. It looked like a neat little sheet music collection, but what immediately struck me were the illustrations. The artwork had that perfect stylized retro Americana look, reminiscent of the movie musical Meet Me In St. Louis. Or The Music Man. A nostalgic salute to musical tastes of Main Street U.S.A., this is. And the artwork was done by a guy whom I’d never heard of before named Aurelius Battaglia, who immediately has become one of my fave illustrators. Apparently the book became very popular upon its publication in the ’50s and it’s not all that uncommon, but I treasure it anyway. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that many of the book’s songs are familiar to me via the great old America Sings attraction at Disneyland. The 1956 edition I have is the thinner, later paperback printing; Leif Peng’s Aurelius Battaglia flickr set contains more images from the hardcover edition.

I scanned about fifty illustrations and assembled them into a Favorite American Songs Flickr set (Battaglia’s fun style and skillful use of spot color is very similar to Lou Peters’ stuff from The New England Cookbook, by the way). Enjoy a sampler below:

Favorite American Songs

Favorite American Songs

Favorite American Songs

Favorite American Songs

Favorite American Songs

Favorite American Songs

Favorite American Songs

2 Thoughts on “Favorite American Songs, and Illustrations

  1. This is beyond fantastic. I’ll be looking for a copy of this for myself now! I have another book here illustrated by Battaglia, which I will have to share with you.

    Don’t be embarrassed that “America Sings” was an educational source for you! It was for me too. I mean, how many little kids on the playgrounds of today can sing “Drill ye Tarriers, Drill” or “She May Be Somebody’s Mother” – as I could growing up in the 1970s? Our family even bought the America Sings soundtrack record and we actually listened to it surprisingly often – enough for all those songs to be permanently recorded in my brain (“come-a-ti-yi-yippee-yippee-yay!”)
    Disneyland used to be quite educational and I believe that our national folk song legacy has slipped further into obscurity since the closing of the “America Sings” attraction.

  2. You’ll love it Kevin! Looking forward to the other Battaglia book.

    America Sings was a huge loss, but at least we have our memories and the soundtrack to enjoy! Every time I hear stuff like “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey” it takes me right back to the 70s and 80s when me and the family grooved to Sam the Eagle and pals. I can’t imagine today’s kids getting all nostalgic about Innoventions, can you?

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