1920’s Musical Anomie

The 1920’s were an
interesting time in
American history.

The earliest part of
the century had a
strong vibe of puritanical
stuffiness that, by the
time of the roaring 20’s
had caused a significant
social backlash.

The reaction to Prohibition
is often singled as a leading
factor in this general sense
of anomie.

But the huge casualty
figures from World War I,
and the 1918 Spanish Flu
epidemic —

(which had also
killed off millions of the
younger generation),

caused many ’30 and unders’
to rethink their lives and
seize upon the pleasures

Skirts got shorter,
dances got closer,
movies got naughtier.

Slang changed dramatically.

Single girls no longer
waited for introductions
to suitable men for the
purpose of marriage.

It was a time
of experiment,
testing limits,
trying new things.

“Carpe Diem” was
the defining
expression of the era.

Living life to the fullest,
riding like ya stole it,

burning the candle at
both ends,

— burning out was better
than rusting away.

you hear that stuff today,
but those people were the
first generation really doing it.

There was a wealth
of changes
in the music world, too…

— fusions and
inclusions —

— off beats,
— down beats —

like the proverbial typewriting
monkeys, it seemed that the
harmonizers of the day were
really going to find the lost
chord if they could just
create enough melody.

And of course, the lyrics
were as racey as the times

Sheet music from the
time bears this out
very clearly.

The covers can be
wonderfully done,
and are often
very telling indeed.

Many 1920’s people
bought racy sheet music
to place conspicuously
somewhere in their homes,
to show just
‘and how in the know’
they were.

Sorta like a coffee table
book with Marilyn Monroe
nudes would be today……

But back then.

You know,
23 skidoo
and all that.


If you’re interested in
1920’s slang,
why not check out
one of my posts
on that very subject here
(imagine that!)

if you liked these
vintage racy song sheets…

well, there are plenty
more on a previous
post of mine on that
subject, too  –
– here .

I hope you enjoy them
thanks for dropping in !


!!! HOY !!!




4 thoughts on “1920’s Musical Anomie

  1. Love your sheet music posts!
    I’ve always been fascinated by old sheet music and the culture and history it carries with each page!
    HUGS!!! 🙂

  2. Getting rid of the Victorian age and moving into the 20’s was the best thing that happened to the U.S. Lightnin’ Hopkins, Ethel Waters, Lil Johnson, Bessie Smith, Leadbelly, I need to get me some of that RAW music.

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