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'Ballad For Americans' Sent 'Message Of Unity' In 1940 Presidential Race

Political campaigns today are choreographed down to songs played at campaign stops.

Sometimes those songs can be controversial: Republicans Ronald Reagan and Chris Christie both used Bruce Springsteen anthems, and "The Boss" himself objected.

But in the presidential campaign of 1940, one song reached across party lines and had everyone cheering. It was unlikely hit: "The Ballad for Americans" was an operatic folk cantata that ran 10 minutes.

Use the audio player above to hear the full story.

This story was produced by Ben Shapiro and edited by Deborah George, with help from Joe Richman, Sarah Kate Kramer, and Nellie Gilles of Radio Diaries. You can find more of their stories on the Radio Diaries Podcast, which is part of Radiotopia from PRX.

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Ben Shapiro