In the Dirty 30s! the most pervasive form of entertainment was the radio, which allowed people to recieve the news, music and shows. In
1933 Ford introduced dashboard radios, further expanding radios
influence. By 1935 there were an estimated 23 million radios in the
United States with approximately 91 million listeners and by 1939 80%
of the population had radios. Because of this, the Dirty 30s!
is considered to be the "Golden Age" of radio.
Big Band Swing
the appearance of Benny Goodman and his big band in 1935 at the
Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles is considered to be the "official"
start of the Big Bands, the style had been brewing for over a decade,
starting out in New Orleans as Dixieland jazz.
don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing,
It don't mean a thing, all you've got to do is sing,
It makes no difference if it's sweet or hot,
Just keep that rhythm, give it everything you've got!
became increasingly popular thanks in part to radio play of such
legends as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller. The style
of music and dance spreading from dancehall to dancehall on both
coasts with variations of the swing dance appearing in different
regions of the country like the Lindy hop and Jitterbug
Texas swing (renamed
Western Swing in 1940) is a style of country music that loosely
resembles the big band music that is popular on the coasts at the
time. Also to be heard in the music were other elements of other
ethnic music from Mexican, Blues, German Polkas, & Ragtime.
Been runnin' around, seen many a town,
and maybe you'll find I'm the kind of guy that brags.
But listen to me and see if you don't agree
No melody rolls like that old steel guitar rag
The Blues were mostly a black art form, which grew out of black
spirituals and work songs. It spread from the deltas in the south,
northward to Chicago, where the stories changed but the themes
remained the same. Blues popularity can largely be attributed the the
hardships of the people living in the depression era.
I went to
fell down on my knees
I went to the crossroad
fell down on my knees
Asked the Lord above "Have mercy, now
save poor Bob, if you please"
One of the more
memorable bluesmen of the 1930s was Robert Johnson. Legends hold that
Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil for his musical talent at
the crossroads of Routes 61 and 49 in Mississippi. At the age of 27,
in 1938, the Devil came to collect on that debt, but not before Robert
Johnson recorded such hits as Sweet Home Chicago & the
The shows coming over the airwaves was a very diverse collection
of mystery, drama, pulp, action, comedy & music.
fireside chats were used to lift the spirits of the American people,
Orson Welles telling of HG Wells "War of the Worlds" put the
nation in a panic, Bob Wills was churning out Texas Swing
from the 50,000 Watt radio station KVOO in Tulsa Oklahoma, and pulp
characters like the Lone Ranger, the Shadow, Doc Savage & the
Green Hornet were born.
Radio wasn't the only form of entertainment in its "Golden
Age" during the Dirty 30s! Hollywood released movie after movie to
entertain people who wanted mainly escapist fare that let them
forget their everyday troubles for a while. Many fantastic films were
produced in the 1930s including, King Kong, Dracula, Frankenstein, Gone with the Wind and The
Wizard of Oz.
Serials, which were multiple episodes surrounding one plot, remained
popular in this era as well, they were usually 20 minutes long and
were shown after the cartoon shorts, and just before the feature
presentation. The characters of the serials included the likes of Buck
Rogers, Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon, and The Shadow, and
each time up until the climatic end of the series they would end the
show with a cliffhanger... to be continued...