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“Ever to the Right”?: The Political Life of 1776 in the Nixon Era

“Ever to the Right”?: The Political Life of 1776 in the Nixon Era Elissa Harbert “Ever to the Right”? The Political Life of 1776 in the Nixon Era The United States in the Nixon era (1969–74) was deeply divided politically, mired in the Vietnam War, and tormented by intense separation and mistrust between the younger and older generations. These societal rifts made it rare for a work of popular culture to cut across lines of political and generational difference. Disheartened by the horrific images of the first televised war, many Americans enjoyed escaping into frivolously entertaining television shows, movies, and musicals, even as entertainment that engaged with politics risked alienating half of its audience. The odds were slim that a stage or screen production could be deeply political in nature and about the United States itself without angering or repelling a large portion of the population. Enter 1776, one of the most successful musicals ever written about American history. When 1776 opened at the 46th Street Theatre in the spring of 1969, people on all points of the political spectrum embraced it, from antiestablishment New Left hippies to right-wing pro–Vietnam War Republicans, and many in between.1 It appealed to people of every Elissa Harbert is an assistant professor of musicology at http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Music University of Illinois Press

“Ever to the Right”?: The Political Life of 1776 in the Nixon Era

American Music , Volume 35 (2) – Aug 30, 2017

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Illinois Press
ISSN
1945-2349
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Abstract

Elissa Harbert “Ever to the Right”? The Political Life of 1776 in the Nixon Era The United States in the Nixon era (1969–74) was deeply divided politically, mired in the Vietnam War, and tormented by intense separation and mistrust between the younger and older generations. These societal rifts made it rare for a work of popular culture to cut across lines of political and generational difference. Disheartened by the horrific images of the first televised war, many Americans enjoyed escaping into frivolously entertaining television shows, movies, and musicals, even as entertainment that engaged with politics risked alienating half of its audience. The odds were slim that a stage or screen production could be deeply political in nature and about the United States itself without angering or repelling a large portion of the population. Enter 1776, one of the most successful musicals ever written about American history. When 1776 opened at the 46th Street Theatre in the spring of 1969, people on all points of the political spectrum embraced it, from antiestablishment New Left hippies to right-wing pro–Vietnam War Republicans, and many in between.1 It appealed to people of every Elissa Harbert is an assistant professor of musicology at

Journal

American MusicUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Aug 30, 2017

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