Unit 7: Great Depression and World War II, 1930-1945

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


"Strange Fruit"

Aber Meeropel, 1937

Lyric source

“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

"Goodbye, Mama (I'm Off to Yokohama)"

J. Fred Coots, 1941


“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




"Corrido Pennsylvanio"

Pedro Rocha and Lupe Martinez, 1929


"El Deportado"

Hermanos Banuelos, 1929

“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




"Cancion Mexicana"

Lalo Guerrero, 1930

“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


"El Corrido de Texas"

Silvano Ramos and Daniel Ramirez, 1929

Lyrics | Recording

"Crossroad Blues"

Robert Johnson, 1936


"Take the A Train"

Billy Strayhorn, 1939


"I Feel Like Going Home"

Muddy Waters, 1948


“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 through 1760

2. New Nation, 1760-1820

3. Expansion & Reform, 1800-1860

4. Civil War & Reconstruction, 1860-1876

5. Development of Industrial

    U.S., 1870-1900

6. Emergence of Modern U.S., 1900-1929

7. Great Depression & WW II, 1930-1945

8. Post-War U.S, .1946-1973

9. Changing America, 1974 -2000

10. The New Millennium









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