Musical duo sings through American history at library

May 25, 2023

From 1754’s “Yankee Doodle” to 2013’s “Happy,” Tom and Sheila Monaghan sang through America’s “history and her-story” at the Wareham Free Library on Wednesday, May 24.

The pair, who both hail from Wareham and have been singing professionally for 35 years, explained the context of each of the 36 songs before singing them and asking the audience to join in. 

For example, despite being known as a patriotic song, “Yankee Doodle” was originally sung by the British as an insult to American colonists. 

Many of the tunes were instantly recognizable, such as Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” or George M. Cohan’s “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” which made it easy for attendees to sing along. 

The numbers stretched across four different centuries, connecting the dots between periods of history. Mostly, they connected one war to the next. 

“These are happy songs for sad times,” Tom said. “They’re songs that lifted people up.”

“Happy Days are Here Again,” for instance, was used by Franklin D. Roosevelt as a campaign song during the Great Depression.