I’m not a fan of Annie, but I was when I was a kid. I listened to the Original Cast Album over and over. So none of those songs will ever get out of my head. One of those tunes is, “It’s a Hard Knock Life,” which I discussed some time ago in a Morning Music with Jay Z. But the song that most comes into my head is, “We’d Like to Thank You, Herbert Hoover.”
That song is a great ensemble piece in the play. It’s also got a simple but compelling melody and clever lyrics. When I was a kid, I didn’t especially know who Hoover was — other than the guy who was president when the Great Depression started. I also knew that conservatives like Archie Bunker thought we could use man like him. Obviously, he wasn’t responsible for the Depression, but he also didn’t manage it well, and became one of the harshest critics of the New Deal.
It makes sense for the for the people destroyed by the Great Depression to blame Hoover. And the song has lots of great lines like the reference to the political slogan, “A chicken in every pot.” The song relates, “In every pot he said ‘a chicken’; but Herbert Hoover he forgot; not only don’t we have the chicken; we ain’t got the pot!” I also like the implied violence of it, “Come down and share some Christmas dinner; be sure to bring the Mis’ess too; we got no turkey for our stuffing; why don’t we stuff you?!”
Here is a surprisingly good good performance of the song by the Young People’s Theater back in 2013: