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Causes of the Cold War Music

George Gershwin, Porgy & Bess (1935)

First performed in 1935, this Gershwin opera about African-American life was one of several cultural exports sponsored by the U.S. government during the early years of the Cold War. European youth, however, preferred American rock and roll to its philharmonic concerts.

Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley (1956)

According to one noted Russian historian, Soviets worshiped Elvis and savored his music, along with the rock sounds of artists such as Little Richard, Fats Domino, and The Beatles. This album, Elvis's self-titled debut, is perhaps his best, chock-full of his most memorable hits such as "Blue Suede Shoes," "Heartbreak Hotel," and "My Baby Left Me."

Little Richard, Here's Little Richard (1957)

Little Richard's electric debut rock and roll album, Here's Little Richard was an American cultural export scooped up by European youths—even by teens in East Germany and the Soviet Union, who at the height of the Cold War risked angering their countries' oppressive rulers by listening to the enemy's music of youthful rebellion.

Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)

Many of the songs on this record were inspired by the general fear of nuclear war that had defined Dylan's generation. But songs such as "Masters of War," "Talkin' World War III Blues," and "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," written in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis, became much more than reflections on the Cold War world; as the anti-Vietnam War movement grew in the late 1960s, this music became intimately associated with the struggle for peace.

Creedence Clearwater Revival, Willy and the Poor Boys (1969)

The fourth album from an iconic American band, Willy and the Poor Boys is chock full of CCR classics including "Down on the Corner," the anti-war anthem "Fortunate Son," and "It Came Out of the Sky," a song that seemed to warn of a war far more destructive than the one raging in Southeast Asia.

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