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Feder, S. (1981). Charles and George Ives: The Veneration of Boyhood. Ann. Psychoanal., 9:265-316.

(1981). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 9:265-316

Charles and George Ives: The Veneration of Boyhood

Stuart Feder, M.D.

A song entitled, “The Things Our Fathers Loved,” one of the 114 Songs which Charles Ives (1922) published at the age of 48, is set to the following text:

I think there must be a place in the soul all made of tunes, of tunes of long ago; I hear the organ on the Main Street corner, Aunt Sarah humming Gospels; Summer evenings, the village cornet band, playing in the square. The town's Red, White and Blue, all Red, White and Blue. Now! Hear the Songs! I know not what are the words. But they sing in my soul of the things our Fathers loved [pp. 91-92].

No source for the text is given in Ives's carefully edited table of contents, but among a few notes and comments at the end of the volume he writes, “Where no author is indicated the words are by Harmony Twitchell Ives or her husband” (p. 260). It was Ives himself who wrote the words for this song, just as he had for many others of the 114.

This collection has a special place in the body of Ives's work and a curious history as well. It captures our interest because of its intricate connections to every aspect of the composer's life and his long career in music. It stimulates us to explore certain relationships between music and biography and, in fact, despite its pretension to genteel privacy, fairly invites us into the composer's life. Indeed, it causes us to wonder, as Ives did himself, why this particular collection was written at all, much less printed and published at his own expense, distributed free to anyone who wanted a copy.

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