Redhead Quickie – Depression Era Series – Pt 4

Several of the poems in The Dream Keeper by Langston Hughes have seasonal themes. Featured on this icy January night is Dreams.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.


Our featured redhead is Mickey Rooney. Rooney starred in over 300 films, his career reaching all the way back to the silent film era. The 5ft-2in Rooney was quite the ladies’ man, and his Andy Hardy series in the 1930’s marked the period of his greatest popularity.

mickey-rooney-judy-garland-1938

Our featured song is Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Fats Waller. The song didn’t apply to Rooney who was married eight times, six of those marriages ending in divorce.

No one to talk with
All by myself
No one to walk with
But I’m happy on the shelf

Ain’t misbehavin’
I’m savin’ my love for you
For you, for you, for you

I know for certain
The one I love
I’m through with flirtin’
It’s just you I’m thinkin’ of

Ain’t misbehavin’
I’m savin’ my love for you

Like Jack Horner
In the corner
Don’t go nowhere
What do I care

Your kisses
Are worth waitin’ for
Believe me

I don’t stay out late
Got no place to go
I’m home about 8
Just me and my radio

Ain’t misbehavin’
I’m savin’ all my love for you

I don’t stay out late
Got no place to go
I’m home about 8
Just me and my radio

Ain’t misbehavin’
I’m savin’ my love for you

  • Writer(s): Andy Razaf, Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller, Harry Brooks

Fats Waller

Redhead Quickie – Depression Era Series – Pt 2

More music and movement from Langston Hughes.

Song for a Banjo Dance

by Langston Hughes

Shake your brown feet, honey,

Shake your brown feet, chile,

Shake your brown feet, honey,

Shake ’em swift and wil’—

Get way back, honey,

Do that rockin’ step.

Slide on over, darling,

Now! Come out

With your left.

Shake your brown feet, honey,

Shake ’em, honey chile.

Sun’s going down this evening—

Might never rise no mo’.

The sun’s going down this very night—

Might never rise no mo’—

So dance with swift feet, honey,

(The banjo’s sobbing low)

Dance with swift feet, honey—

Might never dance no mo’.

Shake your brown feet, Liza,

Shake ’em, Liza, chile,

Shake your brown feet, Liza,

(The music’s soft and wil’)

Shake your brown feet, Liza,

(The banjo’s sobbing low)

The sun’s going down this very night—

Might never rise no mo’.


Our featured redhead is Christina Hendricks, best known for her role as Joan Holloway on Mad Men. The show takes place in the 60’s, but the main character, Don Draper, grew up as Dick Whitman during the Depression, the product of a prostitute mother who died when he was a young boy, and an abusive father. Joan, limited by the attitudes of her times toward women, uses her sexuality to advance her career, but not without emotional consequences.

christina-hendricks-300-4


The featured popular song from this period is “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” by Young and Ahler which became a standard after it was first recorded by Fats Waller and released on May 8, 1935. I’m not sure which cover I recall from my Grandpa’s collection, but the melody was catchy and the lyrics always tickled me.

I’m gonna sit right down
And write myself a letter
And make believe
It came from you.
I’m gonna write words
Oh so sweet,
They’re gonna knock me
Off my feet,
A lot of kisses
On the bottom –
I’ll be glad I got ’em.

I’m gonna smile and say
“I hope you’re feeling better,”
And close “with love”
The way you do.
I’m gonna sit right down
And write myself a letter
And make believe
It came from you.

Redhead Quickie – Depression Era Series

This is a spin off of the “popular” series Redhead Record Review. It is a celebration of the poetry of Langston Hughes and popular American music of the Great Depression.

For those of you who are of the belief that there is nothing new under the sun, this may help to explain why we sometimes feel we are born into the wrong period in history. The post-hippie conservative inflationary 70’s I grew up in probably had a lot in common with the edge of the Jazz Age Roaring Twenties leading into the Great Depression of 30’s America. Some of my earliest and most lasting memories are of my grandfather sharing the music of his youth on old 78’s, Hi-Fi records and reel-to-reel tapes.

The poetry of Langston Hughes, from his 1935 collection The Dream Keeper, echoes the popular music of the times.

langston hughes

Negro Dancers – Langston Hughes

‘Me an’ ma baby’s
Got two mo’ ways,
Two mo’ ways to do de Charleston!’
Da, da,
Da, da, da!
Two mo’ ways to do de Charleston!’
Soft light on the tables,
Music gay,
Brown-skin steppers
In a cabaret.
White folks, laugh!
White folks, pray!
‘Me an’ ma baby’s
Got two mo’ ways,
Two mo’ ways to do de
Charleston!’

Our featured redhead is Mae West. I think she was actually platinum blond, but since photos and movies were in black and white, I can take some liberties. Besides, I already featured Shirley Temple in an earlier post.

Just kidding; representing the period is the great Katharine Hepburn with her performances in Little Women and Morning Glory for which she won an Oscar in 1933.

Katharine-on-the-set-of-Morning-Glory

To lift the spirits of a nation suffering under the weight of desperate times, many of the popular songs featured optimistic and dream inspired melodies and lyrics.

On the Sunny Side of the Street is credited to Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh, but there are some who claim that it was actually written by Fats Waller who sold the rights. The song has been covered so many times, with slight variations. I’ve selected an excerpt from a Billie Holiday recording.

On the Sunny Side of the Street

Grab your coat and get your hat
Leave your worry on the doorstep
Just direct your feet
To the sunny side of the street
Can’t you hear a pitter pat
And that happy tune is your step
Life can be so sweet
On the sunny side of the street

I used to walk in the shade
With those blues on parade
But no I’m not afraid
This Rover crossed over

If I never have a cent
I’d be rich as Rockefeller
Gold dust at my feet
On the sunny side of the street

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