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FDR's New Deal Music

Marc Blitzstein, The Cradle Will Rock: Original 1985 Cast Recording (1999)

Listen to a recording of a recent stage production of Marc Blitzstein’s original 1937 musical, which was first sponsored by the New Deal’s Federal Theatre Project and then banned for its leftist pro-labor tone.

Various Artists, The Big Broadcast: Jazz and Popular Music of the 1920s and 1930s (2006)

Rich Conaty, host of a classic American music radio program on WFUV-FM in New York City, presents this collection of vintage tunes from the decades leading up to and following the stock market crash. It features the Mound City Blue Blowers, Scrappy Lambert, and Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra.


New York radio host Rich Conaty has also carefully compiled this second, and arguably superior, collection of pop songs from the 1920s and 1930s. It features artists such as Eva Taylor, The Three Keys, and Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra.

Various Artists, Brother Can You Spare A Dime? (2001)

A bit different from the Conaty collections, Brother Can You Spare a Dime? offers a sampling of tracks representing various regions, ethnic backgrounds, and class perspectives from the Depression era. The CD also includes a 36-page booklet with detailed notes on each of the sixteen tracks!

Robert Johnson, The Complete Recordings (1990)

African-American blues artist Robert Johnson was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta during the height of the Jim Crow era, when legal segregation and the threat of violence controlled the lives of all southern blacks. When the Great Depression hit the Delta, Johnson had already spent his entire life struggling to make ends meet. Here, his haunting lyrics and eerie guitar riffs, recorded in the 1930s, reflect these experiences and offer listeners a rare window into the soul of a man who both suffered and endured.

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