The Raconteurs Skillfully Tell Stories in Song
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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. This week…
We listen to new music from the Raconteurs…
And answer a listener question about President Abraham Lincoln…
But, first we talk about Twitter...
The nineteen fifties song "Rockin' Robin" was about a bird that loved to tweet, or sing. But to a new generation of high-speed communicators, a tweet describes a message sent through a popular new service. Barbara Klein tells us about Twitter.
Many people use E-mail, blogs, text messages and social Web sites like Facebook to keep in touch with their friends. Now there is also Twitter. This online service lets people send short messages that are no more than one hundred forty letters long.
Here is how it works: Users can set up their own Twitter page by joining the free service on Twitter.com. They can search the Web site to find friends who are also using the service. By choosing to "follow" friends, users can see their new messages. Updates appear instantly in a list form as they are written. Twittering describes writing new updates on Twitter. A tweet is an individual Twitter update, or message.
Unlike blogs, Twitter users do not have to log onto the Web site to post updates. They can send and receive messages through mobile phones as text messages or through E-mail. Other programs available for download make Twitter updates appear on your computer screen. People use social Web sites like Facebook to share information with a special group of friends. But most Twitter users make their messages public.
Twitter says its service provides a way for people to stay connected to others, through messages describing what they are doing at that moment. But twitterers also use the service to get quick answers to questions or to get breaking news.
For example, when he was a presidential candidate, Barack Obama announced his choice for vice president on Twitter.
Many other politicians in Washington use Twitter to share their daily activities with supporters. They reportedly include former Republican presidential candidate John McCain. In addition, news agencies provide updates and companies share product information.
Some critics say Twitter is a waste of time that takes people's attention away from their work. Yet a growing number of users around the world see it as the latest method for busy people to get and share information quickly.
Our listener question this week comes from Brazil. Silvio Sabenca wants to know more about the sixteenth president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
Good timing, Silvio. February twelfth is the two hundredth anniversary of his birth. Abraham Lincoln is considered one of the greatest and beloved American presidents. But, in some ways he was one of the most unlikely.
Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky in eighteen-oh-nine. He grew up in Indiana. His family was poor and had no school education. But Abraham Lincoln taught himself what he needed to know. He became a lawyer. He served in the Illinois state legislature and in the United States Congress. He was elected president in eighteen sixty.
President Lincoln led the United States during the Civil War. He sent Northern forces to battle the slave-holding Southern states to keep them from leaving the Union. President Lincoln freed the slaves and helped keep the nation together.
In the end, it cost him his life. On April fourteenth, eighty sixty-five, a Southern supporter shot President Lincoln in Ford's Theater in Washington. It happened five days after the South surrendered and the Civil War ended.
Abraham Lincoln wrote some of the most important words in American history. In eighteen sixty-three, he gave what became his best known speech. The Union army had won a major battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Ceremonies were held there to honor the dead at a burial place on the battlefield.
President Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg for only about two minutes. Written copies of his speech differ. Without a recording, no one can be sure exactly what he said. But his speech has never been forgotten. Here is some of the Gettysburg Address:
"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war.
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here."
You can learn more about Abraham Lincoln on the Special English program "THIS IS AMERICA" at this time on Monday.
The Raconteurs make music that lives up to the band's name. The word "raconteur" describes a person who is skillful at telling stories. The band members describe themselves as a new band made up of old friends. All the band members have established music careers doing other projects. But they decided to come together as a band to try something different. Mario Ritter has more.
The lead singer of the Raconteurs may sound familiar. Jack White is also a member of the band called the White Stripes. The Raconteurs also include the songwriter and guitarist Brendan Benson. The other members are Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence who are part of the band called the Greenhornes.
These musicians had performed together over the years. But in two thousand five, they decided to play together officially as the Raconteurs. Here is "Steady, As She Goes" from their first album, "Broken Boy Soldiers."
The Raconteurs' latest album is called "Consolers of the Lonely." The band released the album in an unusual way. They announced their new album only a week before it went on sale to avoid the usual publicity created by critics. Here is the song "The Switch and the Spur."
Last year, the Raconteurs played at several music festivals. They included Coachella in California, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Bonnaroo in Tennessee. We leave you with "Many Shades of Black" from "Consolers of the Lonely."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written by Brianna Blake, Caty Weaver and Dana Demange. Mario Ritter was our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.