“The Road Is Open Again,” via YouTube.
In times of adversity and challenge, catchy songs or phrases have captured Americans’ imaginations, rallying spirits and action. Though written in 1929, the tune, “Happy Days Are Here Again,” was first employed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the 1932 Democratic National Convention, becoming his campaign theme song and celebratory salute after the end of Prohibition, suggesting better days ahead. Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler’s song, “Get Happy,” composed in 1930, revived spirits with ecstatic gospel lyrics. The unofficial National Recovery Act theme song, “The Road Is Open Again,” written in 1933, promises golden times, more employment, and better financial conditions thanks to Roosevelt’s New Deal policies. Its spirited, can-do lyrics cheered the NRA, appealing to movie fans and uptempo swingers alike.
The Black Tuesday Stock Market Crash of October 29, 1929 wiped out fortunes, destroyed lives, and decimated the American economy. Businesses failed, jobs disappeared, and families struggled over the next several years, with unemployment as high as 25%. Each round of industry or factory shutdowns caused more financial calamities. President Herbert Hoover took a laissez-faire approach to the situation, assuming business policies would eventually turn the situation around.