Historical Background


Beginning and End of Unit Activities; Assessment Strategies

"Which Side Are You On?"
Words by Florence Reece; tune "Lay the Lily Low," 1931
The Almanac Singer's union organizing song, written during a coal strike in 1931

"I'm Marching Down Freedom's Road"
Words by Langston Hughes; music by Emerson Harper, 1942
Civil Rights song from the World War II era 7

"Strange Fruit"
Aber Meerepol, 1937
A stirring metaphor about the horror of lynching

"Der Führer's Face"
Oliver Wallace, 1942
Humorous song mocking Adolf Hitler, a popular song of World War II

"A Slip of the Lip"
Luther Henderson, 1942
Duke Ellington's song to encourage compliance with security regulations

"Gee, But I Wanna Go Home"
Lt. Gitz Rice
Adapted from a British World War I song; became a camp favorite of American G.I.'s

"Goodbye, Mama (I'm Off to Yokohama)"
J. Fred Coots, 1941
A march reminescent of "Over There" about mobilizing to fight the Japanese

"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

"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"
Words by Edgar Y. Harburg; music by Jay Gorney, 1932
A World War I veteran laments being reduced to an unemployed panhandler

"Seven Cent Cotton and Forty Cent Meat"
Bob Miller, Emma Dermer, c. 1930
A lamentation for farmers suffering from deflated prices for agricultural goods

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

"El Corrido Pensylvanio (Corrido of Pennsylvania)"
Pedro Rocha and Lupe Martinez, 1929
A song about migrant workers coming to work on the railroad in Pennsylvania

"El Deportado (The Deportee)"
Hermanos Banuelos, 1929
A corrido about the deportation of Mexican immigrants during the Great Depression

"Boll Weevil Song"
Traditional, 1934
A lament about the beetle destroying the cotton crop

"Hobo's Lullaby"
Goebel Reeves, c. 1930
The reality of homelessness during the Depression is vividly portrayed in this lullaby

"Roll On Columbia"
Words by Woody Guthrie; tune based on "Goodnight, Irene" by Huddie Ledbetter, 1936
Guthrie celebrates Rural Electrification Act's Columbia River Dam project

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

"Canción Mexicana"
Lalo Guerrero, 1934
The unofficial national anthem of Mexico

"(If You Ain't Got the) Do, Re, Mi"
Woody Guthrie, 1935
Dust Bowl migrants reaching the California border often had to pay bribes to get in

"Chattanooga Choo-choo"
Words by Mack Gordon; music by Harry Warren, 1941
Glenn Miller's big-band number captures the romance of passenger travel by train

"El Corrido de Texas (The Corrido of Texas)"
Silvano Ramos and Daniel Ramirez, 1929
A corrido about escaping the poor working conditions in Texas by train

"Cross Road Blues"
Robert Johnson, 1936
The legendary blues guitar players song about the loneliness of being on the road

"I Feel Like Going Home"
Muddy Waters, 1948
A blues song that captures the musical sounds of the great migration

"Whistle While You Work"
Words by Larry Morey; music by Frank Churchill, 1937
A cheerful interpretation of the work ethic from Disney's animated feature Snow White

"God Bless America"
Irving Berlin, revised 1938
Singer Kate Smith introduced this popular patriotic song on Armistice Day, 1938

"You'll Never Walk Alone"
Music by Richard Rodgers; words by Oscar Hammerstein II, 1945
This song from the musical Carousel expressed Americans' hope at the end of the war

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