MPT plays again the lilting melodies that graced 'Civil War'


August 14, 1991|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

Think of it as MTV for Civil War buffs. Think of it as pretty great TV. Think of it as a show you don't want to miss if you are one of the millions who loved Ken Burns' "The Civil War."

"Songs of the Civil War," at 7:30 tonight on MPT (Channels 22 and 67), is one of the sleepers of the summer. It's a companion piece to Burns' multipart documentary on the war that first aired last fall, and features contemporary pop musicians performing Civil War songs.

The musicians include Judy Collins, John Hartford, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Hoyt Axton, Waylon Jennings, Richie Havens, Kathy Mattea, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Ronnie Gilbert and Jay Ungar.

Their performances are introduced by Burns, who co-produced the show, and historian Shelby Foote, whose eloquent analysis so graced "The Civil War." While the artists sing and play, the songs are illustrated by those remarkable photographs that Burns gathered for his acclaimed series.

When the words, melodies, pictures and performance meld, viewers are treated to moments of great emotion and truth. How great? There are times during the 65-minute production that you will feel literally connected heart to heart to those men and women, our ancestors, looking sad and strong and ever so much like us in photographs taken more than 100 years ago.

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