There’s a legend of sorts about the Federal Music Project (FMP), a subdepartment of the Works Progress Administration of FDR’s New Deal. That legend holds that many of the songs that became popular during that era were actually commissioned by the FMP – i.e., their composers were paid to compose popular songs. It could be true. Consider these titles:
- We’re In The Money
- Red Red Robin
- The Sunny Side Of The Street
- Brother, Can You Spare A Dime
- Pick Yourself Up
- Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
- No Depression In Heaven
All these songs were composed and became popular during the Depression years. There were others, of course, but these are the ones I can remember offhand. (No, I wasn’t alive then, but my father was, and he used to hum all of the above until Hell wouldn’t have them.) I’m not sure whether they were FMP-funded tunes, but their association with those years is strong.
One of my more unusual college classmates was addicted to several of the above songs. He had a habit of bursting into one or another of them in public, and regardless of the circumstances. It made the rest of us consider him a trifle odd…not the sort of bloke who’d enjoy a Led Zeppelin concert, don’t y’know. But then, his favorite band was Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians, so he probably didn’t give a damn about the tastes that prevailed among the rest of our generation.
Considering the tremendous effort the Usurper Administration is putting into returning America to the conditions that prevailed during the Great Depression, it wouldn’t surprise me if Depression-era songs were to experience a renewed popularity. In fact, just this morning I woke up with “Red Red Robin” playing in my head. Not a pleasant awakening, I must tell you…especially as the clock read 2:15 AM, an early arising hour even for your humble Curmudgeon. But then, I probably would have enjoyed the experience more were it not for the Newfoundland puppy (at ten months of age, well over 100 pounds) drooling into my left ear at the same moment.
Bread lines and soup kitchens…25% unemployment…indigents with their hats out on every corner…gangland warfare and blood running in the gutters…hairy nuisances in sandwich boards proclaiming that “the end is near”…
Ah! The memories!