Legendary lyricist-with-a-conscience Yip Harburg born on this day in 1898. (The "Yip" is short for "yipsel", squirrel in Yiddish, he was a sprightly lad.) Among many famous songs,
he wrote "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" with Harold Arlen and "Brother, can you spare a dime?" in 1932, which Republican politicians tried to have banned from radio play, maybe because they found it in poor taste for anyone to admit having financial difficulties. Or possibly because they had a premonition that Franklin Roosevelt's profile would end up on the dime.
Speaking of Depression (was I?), this one is a bit of a stretch, musically (as opposed to rubbery), but it's surprisingly--and depressingly--topical these days, so here goes: On April 8th, 1935, the US Congress approved the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act, which lead to the creation of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Under the WPA was Federal Project Number One, which umbrellaed the Federal Writers' Project, the Federal Art Project, the Federal Theater Project, and (finally, we get to the point) the Federal Music Project! One of the "big things" to come out of the FMP was the recording and saving of inumerable sources of American music. (Alan and John Lomax running around the countryside with tape recorders, sticking microphones in the faces of anybody holding an instrument or humming a tune, is the image that springs to mind.) Lots of these recordings would be later "discovered" by prominent pop musicians and the like and turned into prominent hit records. So is it a stretch (here we are stretching again) to say that the sound of modern pop music is largely the result of government funding (a government bail-out, no less)? Probably.