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The Great Depression: More Relevant Than Ever (Pt 2)

Here is the second half of the songs on the Great Depression playlist.  Yesterday, I offered up the first five tunes representing The Great Depression and here is more to get you thinking.  My patner on this project, the guitar master Tristan offers up some insight as well.  These songs once again are very modern, but their lyrics can be interpreted to reflect the emotions of a past event. 

1.       “Burden in My Hand”- Soundgarden.
This song has a lot to do with the Great Depression.  “Follow me into the desert, as thirsty as you are; crack a smile and cut your mouth and drown in alcohol.”  Those words connect to not only the dry land, but also the feelings of the people.  “I left her in the sand, just a burden in my hand” could reflect how sometimes men had to leave their families behind so in the long run, they could make enough money to support them and make everything better again. 

2.       “Greater Omaha”- Desaparecidos.
This song has a lot to do with greed.  “One more mouth full and we will be happy again” reflects how people could never get enough before and during the GD.  “We can’t afford to be generous” connects how to companies couldn’t simply give away the products they couldn’t sell, they had to rid of them as waste.  “Out west they’re moving dirt to make a greater Omaha” references how in California, they were working hard for their home town.  “Yeah it’s all you can eat and they’ll never get enough” talks about how no matter what you gave the hungry and the poor and the struggling, they always wanted more.  It was a tough time. 

3.       “Allentown”- Billy Joel.
A lot of the lyrics in this song connect to the GD.  “They’re shutting all the factories down” has to do with how companies couldn’t stay open anymore because they were no longer profitable.  “It’s getting very hard to stay” is how a lot of the people in the dust bowl felt.  “Every child had a pretty good shot to get at least as far as their old man got, but something happened on the way to that place” means that children used to have futures, and they used to have good opportunities for when they grew up.  A lot of that was taken away when the country hit really hard economic times. 

4.       “Career Opportunities”- The Clash.
There weren’t exactly a lot of career opportunities during the GD.  “Career opportunities are the ones that never knock” is something that even rings true today for those who are unemployed.  Also, the hard beat and the way the vocalist sings highlights the anger felt by those struggling.  The line “every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock” is about how the government didn’t want people fleeing the country, so they created fake occupations to try and lure people back in. 

5.       “Come Clean”- Hillary Duff.
This is a happy song that captures the feeling of those affected by the dust bowl when it was finally over.  “Let the rain fall down, I’m coming clean” connects to when it finally rained again and things started to truly get better.  Also, the rain is symbolic of the cleansing feeling of things going back to normal.  It’s a pleasant thing when the struggle is finally over and rain washes over the past.     

These tunes can be taken for granted in the way that we listen to them normally; though some connections may be a stretch, it’s no doubt that history repeats itself and therefore, music reflects this.  There will always be historical connections in every song you hear- you just have to listen a little harder.

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