- The Washington Times - Friday, September 26, 2008

An economic sword of Damocles hangs over the head of the financial markets each day. Observers speculate that a systemic calamity could be in the offing — the Great Depression 2.0. It’s only a matter of time, it seems, before Wall Street’s blues become Main Street’s. Better prepare a soundtrack.

1. Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? — Written by E.Y. “Yip” Harburg and Jay Gorney, the song became a Depression-era standard. Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee perhaps performed the definitive versions, but it has been covered by Everybody — from Al Jolson to Barbra Streisand to Tom Waits.

2. Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man) — “I know it may sound funny/But people everywhere are running out of money,” Randy Newman sang on his 1974 Deep South concept album, “Good Old Boys.” At this point, Randy, it doesn’t sound the least bit funny.

3. Sitting in Limbo — Written by the great reggae artist Jimmy Cliff and covered by Willie Nelson for Farm Aid, the song sums up the national mood well: “Sitting here in limbo/waiting for the dice to roll.”

4. There’s Nothing Soft About Hard Times — In which Jimmy Buffett sleeps on a park bench in New Orleans’ Jackson Square. Granted, Mr. Buffett may have other reasons for passing out on a park bench, but the song mentions, too, the need to cadge for dimes on the street.

5. Like a Rolling Stone — “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose,” goes the classic line. Thanks, Bob Dylan, for helping us see the silver lining.

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