Unit 7: Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945

United/Divided | War & Peace | Work | Home | Moving Along | Faith & Ideals


“Happy Days Are Here Again”

Words Jack Yellen, music Milton Ager, 1929
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s campaign song

Lyric source | Recording | Recording online

“Which Side Are You On?”

Florence Reece, tune of the hymn “Lay the Lily Low,” 1931
The Almanack Singer’s union organizing song, written during a coal strike in 1931

Lyrics | Recording

“I’m Marching Down Freedom Road”

Words Langston Hughes, music Emerson Harper, 1942
Civil rights song from the World War II era

Lyric source | Recording


War and Peace


“Der Fuhrer’s Face”

Oliver Wallace, 1942
Humorous song mocking Adolf Hitler, the unofficial most popular song of the war

Lyrics | Recording | Recording online

“The Slip of a Lip”

Luther Henderson, 1942
Duke Ellington’s popular song to encourage compliance with security regulations


“Gee, Ma, I Want to Go Home”

Lt. Gitz Rice, 1940s
An adaptation of a British World War I song became a camp favorite ofAmerican GI’s

Lyric source 1 | Lyric source 2 | Recording




“Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”

Jimmie Cox, 1922
Blues tune sung by Bessie Smith in 1929 became an anthem of the Great Depression

Lyrics | Recording | Recording online

“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime”

Words Edgar Y. Harburg, music Jay Gorney, 1932
A World War I veteran laments being reduced to an unemployed panhandler

Lyric source | Recording | Recording online

“Seven Cent Cotton, Forty Cent Meat”

Music Bob Miller, words Emma Dermer, c. 1930
A lamentation for farmers suffering terribly from deflated prices for agricultural goods

Lyrics | Recording

“Rosie the Riveter”

Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb, 1942
Women turned war plant workers are made heroes in song and popular culture

Lyric source (full score) | Recording | Recording online




“Hobo’s Lullaby”

Goebel Reeves, c. 1930
The reality of homelessness during the Depression is vividly portrayed in this lullaby

Lyric Source | Recording

“Roll on Columbia”

Words Woody Guthrie, based on Huddie Ledbetter’s “Goodnight, Irene,” 1936
Guthrie celebrates Rural Electrification Act’s Columbia River Dam project

Lyric source | Recording

“Duration Blues”

Johnny Mercer, 1944
A good-natured complaint about home-front rationing “for the duration” of World War II

Lyric source | Recording


Moving Along


“Do, Re, Mi”

Woody Guthrie, 1935
Dust Bowl migrants reaching the California border often had to pay bribes to get in

Lyrics | Recording

“Chattanooga Choo-choo”

Words Mack Gordon, music Harry Warren, 1941
Glenn Miller’s big band number capturing the romance of passenger travel by train

Lyrics | Recording | Recording online


Faith and Ideals


“Whistle While You Work”

Words Larry Morey, music Frank Churchill, 1937
A cheerful interpretation of the work ethic from Disney’s animated feature “Snow White”

Lyric source | Recording | Recording online

“God Bless America”

Irving Berlin, 1938
Singer Kate Smith introduced this popular patriotic song on Armistice Day 1938

Lyric source 1 (Kate Smith recording online) | Lyric source 2 | Recording

“You’ll Never Walk Alone”

Music Richard Rodgers, words Oscar Hammerstein II, 1945
This song from the musical “Carousel” expressed Americans’ hope at the end of the war

Lyric source | Recording | Recording online


More Units:

1. Worlds Meeting

2. New Nation

3. Expansion & Reform

4. Civil War & Reconstruction

5. Development of Industrial


6. Emergence of Modern U.S.

7. Great Depression & WW II

8. Post-War U.S.

9. Contemporary U.S.









Copyright 2007-2008 Center for American Music, University of Pittsburgh Library System