the greatest depression

The Sound of the Market Crashing

So. The bailout hasn’t exactly fixed things, nor did the Federal Reserve’s announcement that it would offer up to $900 billion in credit to major banks. Thus far today, the Dow has dropped below 10,000, the S&P is hovering near a record low, stocks have taken a tumble worldwide, and this poor trader who was photographed crying on the floor probably doesn’t even have the energy to be embarrassed. “The market has flopped,” former Fed chairman Paul Volcker noted rather bluntly at a news conference today. Hey! Don’t be so glum, chum! Let’s look on the bright side. For instance, did you know Wall Street crashes of yore have actually done much to inspire creativity, particularly of the musical variety? Using Steve Fraser’s Every Man a Speculator and the amazing Internet, writer Debbie Nathan found that market collapses and plunges had inspired many a catchy tune. Her playlist, with audio links, is after the jump.


Scott Joplin, “Wall Street Rag
Composed the year after the Panic of 1907, is divided into four parts: “Panic on Wall Street,” which he instructed should be played like a dirge; Brokers Feeling Melancholy”; a more up-tempo “Good Times Coming”; and finally, “Listening to the Strains of Genuine Negro Ragtime, Brokers Forget their Cares.”

Duke Ellington, “Wall Street Wail
An oddly cheerful piece from 1929 commemorates Black Thursday.

W.C. Handy, “Wall Street Blues
Also from 1929, but the lyrics resonate even now: “Oh Wall Street you’ve got me depressed / Downhearted and you can guess the rest / I used to be a bull, wolves got me there / Now I’m just a little sheep without no hair.” (Click on Song No. 14)

10cc, “Wall Street Shuffle
The British rock group best known for “I’m Not in Love” wrote this in response to the shallow market crash of the early seventies: “You’ve gotta be cool on Wall Street / When your index is low / Dow Jones ain’t got time for the bums.”

Cubicle, “Wall Street Polka
This L.A. punk band is kind of amateurish: “Gotta buy buy buy gotta sell sell sell,” go the lyrics, and it’s kind of hard to hear the rest. But that their latest album is called American Business suggests they may be leaders of this generation’s contribution to the Crash music genre.

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The Sound of the Market Crashing