Learn American History through 50 pop songs

The Nineties and On… Song


The 1990s, known as “the Nineties”, was the decade that started on January 1, 1990 and ended on December 31, 1999. It was the last full decade of both the 20th century and the 2nd millennium. Important events were the mobilization of capital markets, the beginning of the widespread information through new media such as the Internet, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union which led to a realignment of powers across the world, and within countries.


© Copyright 2010 by Mr. and Mrs. Gillenwater

George Bush the first still ran things as we came to 1990
The year we watched Saddam Hussein invade Kuwait with his Iraqis
We worried that he had a plan to take the entire Middle East
So we gave him until mid January to leave quietly in peace
When he ignored the deadline, Desert Storm began
A six week war The Persian Gulf, Iraqis surrendered in the sand

By ’92 America was wanting something fresh
Running after golden rings had left them out of breath
Unemployment and recession had the middle class on the ropes
In the up and coming vote for president many Americans hung their hopes
Upon a man who wore no jacket and preached in rolled up sleeves
Who they’d seen blow a saxophone right on their own MTV

And the story of America is still being written
Chapter by chapter, word by word, song by song
The story of America goes on

Bill Clinton won things easily beating out Ross Perot and Bush
Governing as a moderate in the middle of the road he stood
He and First Lady Hillary pushed for universal healthcare
It was a heated topic, but in the end it went nowhere
Still the economy was booming, and unemployment low
The stock market hit record highs, the 1990’s had found their flow

Around the world unrest brewed in the wake of communist demise
As borders fell, ethnic groups scrambled to take up age old sides
The former Yugoslavia splintered into three distinctive groups
And when ethnic cleansing started Clinton sent in 20,000 troops
And even further east, China crushed democracy
But Clinton kept lines open even as he spoke out against their policies

And the story of America is still being written
Chapter by chapter, word by word, song by song
The story of America goes on

Yes in the 1990’s we rode along with Bill
But when he slipped up Ken Starr went in for the kill
It ended in impeachment, though in office he remained
Till the year 2000 thus begun Bush 2’s reign

Sitting down to breakfast eating
Eating Cherrios with Charlie
I’m out the door in ten minutes
To catch my subway to the city
Living here in Brooklyn
My baby, wife, and me
Just gotta grab my tie
Then catch the uptown 3

Then a phone call from LA
My sister calling really early
But I’m out the door in ten minutes
To catch my subway to the city
She said we’re on TV
And is everything OK?
Because the World Trade Center
Just got hit by high jacked planes

On the rooftop of my brownstone
I saw the final moments of the towers
And life forever changed
In those early morning hours
Of the 11th of September
New York convulsed in communal shock
In all 50 states
The American psyche was rocked

3000 lives they soon tallied on TV
And I never caught my train that day into the city

So into the new millennium the US came with new resolve
Growing debt, wars abroad, so many crisis’s to solve
George Bush the 2nd held the reigns until 2008
When an historical election brought us a bi-racial candidate
Barak Obama was voted in, in a timeless prideful moment
A hundred years past slavery we had our very first black president

Obama has his hands full and so do all of us
Our economy has all but died since the housing bubble bust
We bailed out the greedy banks, Detroit, and nearly every state
Our middle class in floundering under a weight of bills unpaid
We’re in two wars around the world, Afghanistan and Iraq
We have a generation of new vets and soldiers who keep going back

And the story of America is still being written
Chapter by chapter, word by word, song by song
The story of America goes on…


George Bush— George Herbert Walker Bush (born June 12, 1924) was the 41st President of the United States (1989–1993). He was also Ronald Reagan's Vice President (1981–1989).

Saddam Hussein— Saddam Hussein (28 April 1937 – 30 December 2006) was the President of Iraq from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003.

“invade Kuwait with his Iraqis”— The invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein and his Iraqi troops began 2 August 1990

Desert Storm— The Persian Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991) which is commonly referred to as the Gulf War and as Desert Storm (because the military response was called Operation Desert Storm) was a conflict of 34 coalition nations against Iraq after their invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990.

The Persian Gulf— The Persian Gulf is in the Southwest Asian region and it is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.

MTV— MTV is an American cable television network based in New York City that launched on August 1, 1981. The original purpose of the channel was to play music videos guided by on-air hosts known as VJs.

Bill Clinton— William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III, August 19, 1946) was the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001.

Ross Perot— Henry Ross Perot (born June 27, 1930) is an American businessman from Texas best known for running for President of the United States in 1992 and 1996.

First Lady Hillary— Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (born October 26, 1947) is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001.

“Communist Demise”— The Fall of Communism, or the Collapse of Communism, are the revolutions which overthrew Soviet-style communist states in Eastern-bloc European countries in 1989.

Ethnic cleansing— Ethnic cleansing means all forms of ethnically-motivated violence, ranging from murder, rape, and torture to the forcible removal of populations.

“when he slipped up”— Clinton's sexual relationship with a 22-year-old White House intern named Monica Lewinsky led to the Lewinsky scandal. After the 1998 elections, the House voted to impeach Clinton, based on allegations Clinton lied about his relationship with Lewinsky in a sworn deposition.

Ken Starr— Ken Starr is an American lawyer, a former federal Court of Appeals judge and Solicitor General who is most notable for his tenure as Independent Counsel while Bill Clinton was U. S. President. Starr investigated an extramarital affair that Bill Clinton had with Monica Lewinsky. After several years of investigation Starr filed the Starr Report which alleged that Bill Clinton had lied about existence of the affair during a sworn deposition. The allegation led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

Impeachment— Impeachment is a formal process in which an elected official is accused of unlawful activity, and which may or may not lead to the removal of that official from office.

“Because the World Trade Center/Just got hit by high jacked planes”— The September 11 attacks (often referred to as September 11th or 9/11) were a series of coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States on September 11, 2001. On that morning, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners. The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and many others working in the buildings. Both buildings collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others.

George Bush the 2nd— George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) was the 43rd President of the United States. He is the eldest son of President George H. W. Bush, who served as the 41st President.

Barak Obama— Barack Hussein Obama II (born August 4, 1961) is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office.

Housing bubble bust— A real estate bubble, or housing bubble, is a type of economic bubble that occurs periodically in local or global real estate markets. It is characterized by rapid increases in valuations of real property such as housing until they reach unsustainable levels relative to incomes and other economic elements, followed by a reduction in price levels. Some argue that the financial crisis of 2007–2010 was due to real estate bubble in the United States.

We bailed out the greedy banks, Detroit, and nearly every state— A bailout is an act of giving capital to a company, a country, or an individual in danger of failing in an attempt to save it from bankruptcy and ruin.

Afghanistan and Iraq— The War in Afghanistan is an ongoing coalition conflict which began on October 7, 2001, as the US military's response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US. The Iraq War is an ongoing military campaign which began on March 20, 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by a multinational force led by the United States.

Tiered Questions

Tier 1 Questions

Explain who the following people are or were: George HW Bush, Saddam Hussein, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Barak Obama.

Name three important events that took place from 1990 until the present.

Tier 2 Questions

Compare and contrast the September 11th attacks to the attack of Pearl Harbor.

Tier 3 Questions

Discuss the most pressing challenges for the United States as we go forward. Propose some solutions.

Test Prep Questions

1) One way in which the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941, and the attacks of September 11, 2001, are similar is that both led to

  • (1) increasing isolation
  • (2) the creation of a military draft
  • (3) the impeachment of the president
  • (4) major changes in United States foreign policy

2) The Department of Homeland Security was created as a direct response to the

  • (1) Persian Gulf War (1991)
  • (2) Oklahoma City bombing (1995)
  • (3) terrorist attacks on September 11 (2001)
  • (4) flooding of New Orleans (2005)

3) An initial response of the United States to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was to

  • (1) aid in the overthrow of Taliban rule in Afghanistan
  • (2) reduce support for Israel
  • (3) end trade with all Middle Eastern nations
  • (4) demand an end to communist rule in Iraq

4) The federal government responded to the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by

  • (1) creating a cabinet-level agency for homeland security
  • (2) deporting most illegal aliens
  • (3) decreasing defense spending
  • (4) expanding the civil liberties of American citizens

5) Which event led to the other three?

  • (1) United States overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan
  • (2) passage of the Patriot Act
  • (3) September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States
  • (4) creation of the Department of Homeland Security

Announcement of Eisenhower Doctrine (1957)
Operation Desert Storm (1991)
Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003 – present)

6) These events involve attempts by the United States to

  • (1) protect human rights in Europe
  • (2) protect its interests in the Middle East
  • (3) deliver humanitarian aid to Africa
  • (4) contain the spread of communism in Asia

7) Which issue is the central focus of this cartoon drawn after September 11, 2001?

  • (1) Is there a need to give up some civil liberties to protect the nation?
  • (2) Should the United States reduce oil imports from the Middle East?
  • (3) Does the United States need fewer limits on immigration?
  • (4) Should the United States abandon the Constitution?

8) The federal government responded to the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by

  • (1) creating a cabinet-level agency for homeland security
  • (2) deporting most illegal aliens
  • (3) decreasing defense spending
  • (4) expanding the civil liberties of American citizens

9) In 1991, one of the reasons President George H. W. Bush committed United States troops to the Persian Gulf War was to

  • (1) maintain the flow of trade through the Suez Canal
  • (2) fulfill military obligations as a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
  • (3) contain the spread of communism in the Middle East
  • (4) assure the flow of Middle East oil to the United States and its allies

“Clinton Offers Economic Aid to Russia”
“U.S. Sends Peacekeeping Troops to Bosnia”
“U.S. Airlifts Food and Medicine to Somalia”

10) These headlines illustrate that United States foreign policy during the 1990s stressed

  • (1) containment
  • (2) collective security
  • (3) global involvement
  • (4) neutrality

11) President Bill Clinton’s decision to send troops to Bosnia in 1995 and to participate in the bombing of Kosovo in 1999 were both in response to international concern over

  • (1) trade agreement violations
  • (2) access to world oil reserves
  • (3) human rights violations
  • (4) monetary policies

12) What is the main idea of this cartoon about President Bill Clinton?

  • (1) Positive economic conditions helped maintain his high approval ratings.
  • (2) Voter approval of the president declined due to flaws in his character.
  • (3) He did not deserve credit for the economic prosperity of the nation.
  • (4) The American public considered personal character the most important trait of a president in the 1990s.

13) One way in which the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War are similar is that in all three wars

  • (1) the goal was to defeat the Soviet Union
  • (2) the United States was primarily interested in protecting oil supplies
  • (3) the United States was fighting without allies
  • (4) no formal declaration of war was made by Congress