Thursday, April 02, 2020

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Songs of a High-Flying Fascist

Lindbergh receives a medal from Luftwaffe commander
Herman Göring on behalf of Adolf Hitler in 1938.
I've been obsessed recently with The Plot Against America, the HBO adaption of Philip Roth's nightmarish alternative-history novel. The basic premise is that Franklin Roosevelt lost the 1940 election to Charles Lindbergh, the aviator who was the first to fly non-stop across the Atlantic in 1927. Politically, Lindbergh was an isolationist with anti-Semitic leanings and Nazi sympathies.

In reality, there was some talk among isolationist Republicans back in the early '40s about Lindbergh running for president. During this time Lindy had become the public face of the nationalist America First Committee (snappy name, no?), fiercely advocating America stay out of the war in Europe -- and leave Hitler alone.

But there's no denying that Lindbergh was a national hero for his historic trip across the ocean between New York and Paris. And that's reflected in songs from the era.

A 1999 article on the American Composer Orchestra's website says, "In the two-year period following Lindbergh's flight, the U.S. Copyright Office recorded three hundred applications on Lindbergh songs."

Here's one from  country singer Vernon Dalhart

Dalhart had a second song about Lindbergh called "Lucky Lindy". But there were about 30 other tunes with that title. Here's. one by Nat Shilkret & The Victor Orchestra from 1927.

This is "When Lindy Comes Home" by The Happiness Boys

Lindbergh also inspired a dance in the late 1920s, the Lindy Hop.

But I'll let Woody Guthrie have the last word.

He saw Lucky Lindy as less of a heroic pilot and more of a fascist shithead.

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