Singing wet and dry: Exploring alcohol regulation through music, 1885–1919




McDonnell, Lytton Naegele

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Despite abundant research on the topic of temperance and prohibition in North America, very little has been written about the relationship between music and alcohol regulation during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Both pro-drink (wet) cultures and anti-drink (dry) cultures amassed several hundred songs in support of their cause. This study compares these songs within the geographical context of Canada and northern North America during the years leading up to prohibition. It assesses both wet and dry songs’ relative success at attaching their causes to hegemonic ideologies, social groups, technologies, and modes of organization. It concludes that, during the period in question, dry music was more adept in each of these respects. This study contributes to current scholarship by demonstrating that wet and dry cultures in North America cannot be completely understood without also studying their music.



Prohibition, Temperance, Music, Drinking, Alcohol