English 11 – A
8 May 2014
Music in Annie in 1920-1930
The Roaring Twenties was a decade absorbed with the growth of the music industry thanks to the radio being born in 1920 (Tyle). The excitement of the war being over brought the Roaring Twenties forth. The American people hungered for change, and the new music of the era, jazz, satisfied their great hunger (100 Favourite Songs). Jazz was a brand new type of music drastically different from anything the American people had heard before. Unfortunately, the Great Depression, which occurred in the thirties, brought forth an aroma of sadness and despair in the lives of the American people. Would jazz also cave into the Depression? Or fight back? Although the mood of the American people changed from the Roaring Twenties to the Great Depression, the music of each era stayed the same; the music industry was the Americans’ outlet from the Depression.
The radio was a huge part of the music industry in the twenties and thirties. The first radio broadcast occurred in 1920, and by 1922 there were 600 radio stations (100 Favourite Songs). The radio became very popular very quickly; nearly sixty percent of Americans had radios in their homes (100 Favourite Songs). By the Great Depression the chief source of music was no longer phonographs or sheet music, but the radio (Tyle). Their favorite things to listen to were comedies such as Amos ‘n Andy and the new music of the age: jazz (Bailey 761). Towards the end of the twenties the radio went from being a treat to inexpensive entertainment (Tyle). In the well-known comic strip, Annie, there were pictures of Annie and the orphans listening to the radio; these same scenes were observed in the beloved Broadway play, Annie (Annie). This goes to show the radio was definitely inexpensive entertainment if even the run-down orphanage in the play Annie could afford to own a radio. Historians David M. Kennedy and Thomas A. Bailey say the radio had many purposes: it “provided a means to concentrate and exercise power from the top to bypass and shrink the influence of leaders and institutions that had previously meditated between individuals and local communities on the one side and the national political parties and the national government on the other,” it accounted for the harmonizing of American popular culture, and it allowed for a source of free enterprise through advertisements on radio stations (Kennedy 229; Bailey 761). How advertisements were used on the radio was shown on the “Hour of Smiles” show with Bert Healey in the play Annie; the Boylan sisters helped to advertise Oxydent toothpaste (Annie). The radio produced many effects in the typical American lifestyle; it brought families together and even “knitted the nation together” (Bailey 761). “The music of famous artists and symphony orchestras was beamed into countless homes – through the radio” (Bailey 762). The play Annie expresses that one of these homes included an all...