This is not, repeat not a political statement: FDR’s New Deal was the best thing that ever happened to music.
Stay with me. Without the New Deal’s “make work” projects, Alan Lomax would not have been sent out to collect folk music. If Alan Lomax hadn’t done that, we might never have heard of Son House, Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, Doc Boggs, Big Bill Broonzy and Skip James. Woody Guthrie might be an interesting footnote.
If the folk music, white and black, of the south had not been captured and exposed to a broader audience, the Chicago Blues as we know it might never have come into being, “race music” and rhythm and blues might never have been noticed by white kids. There might never have been a folk revival in the 50’s.
No delta blues? Nothing in Chicago? No folk revival? No:
Shall I go on?
Elvis, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins… life, and culture, as we know it would simply not exist.
I can’t imagine a better use of government money. Big Bird might just agree.