A troubling part is the omission of Hispanic and Franco American voices that were surely as much a part of the musical spectrum in the early going and in the present as the English/Scott's/Irish music that predominates the first two discs. Surely, it would have been more appropriate to include a Cajun or Hispanic influenced song than the sentimental, "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?"
The three disc set is divided into three eras; disc one (Red) is for the period covering settlement and colonization up to 1860, disc two (White) is from the Civil War to the end of World War Two, and disc three (Blue) is the post war period until the 2001. (It says until the present, but the most recent song is an adaptation of Alan Jackson's post September 11th 2001 recording "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?"– five or six years ago, which omits any of the music written about Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq)
Each disc contains songs that will be familiar to almost every American, and some that are slightly more obscure. But even the songs you thought you knew, like "Yankee Doodle Dandy" for instance, might be a surprise. The lyrics of that song are quite a bit more risque and filled with adult double entendres than I had ever heard before, and I doubt are the ones they sing around campfires at scout camps. "Yankee Doodle keep it up/ Yankee Doodle Dandy/ ride the music and the step/ and with the girls be handy" were not lyrics I was taught as a kid.
While the first disc contains songs like "Peg And Awl", "The Old Woman Taught Wisdom", and "Let Us Break Bread Together" that are not going to be known by a great deal of people, the same can't be said for discs two. The majority of the music is well known tunes like "John Brown's Body", "Battle Hymn Of The Republic", "Over There", and "Rosie The Riveter". While there has been some attempt to include songs that deal with the harsher realities of life; Woody Guthrie's "Deportee" and "Seven Cent Cotton and Forty Cent Meat", the majority are patriotic songs from the two World Wars and earlier.
A huge body of music that represented the labour movement and the fight for the rights of miners and workers across America has been omitted, and songs dealing with the dustbowl and the other trials faced by people in the twenties and thirties are limited to two in total. There was also a good chunk of America that was singing the Blues during this time, and not including at least one song in this period from that genre is a serious failing. It would have been more representative to include a Robert Johnson song instead of something like "Happy Days are Here Again".