Welcome to Pre-War America Month

Pre-War America Month Theme Month Introduction

Certain phrases are fully capable of existing in a realm of ambiguity – with omitted details sufficiently implied by the surrounding context clues. For eighty years, the terms “pre-war” and “post-war” have fit this description: two distinct eras, separated by the global calamity that was the Second World War.

Of course, America’s entry into World War II was belated, but once committed, the nation threw its entire weight behind the cause, and in the process, would forever separate the seemingly quaint existence of the “before times” from the turbulent years that coincided with (and followed) its entry into the vaunted position of a global superpower. Never before, or since, would a recent past feel as instantly antiquated (or distant) as in it did in the anxious years of early-1940s.

Inevitably, this shock to the nation’s system would create a deep and sincere nostalgia for those “simpler times.” However, as anyone with even a cursory knowledge of American history can tell you, there was nothing simple about the decades preceding World War II. The 1930s had found the nation – and much of the world – in the grips of the Great Depression, balancing the “can do” spirit of the New Deal with the very real possibility of a larger social and political upheaval. The previous decade, while often fondly remembered as an era of limitless possibilities, was every bit as tumultuous, as the dichotomies that defined the United States – urban/rural, rich/poor, Black/white – threatened to pull the rapidly modernizing nation apart at its seams.

It’s those years of the 1920s-30s that Strange Currencies will focus on throughout the month of February. Join us, as we take a look at the blues, folk, country, and jazz music that defined this fascinatingly complex era of American cultural history.


  • Matt Ryan

    Matt Ryan founded Strange Currencies Music in January 2020, and remains the site's editor-in-chief. The creator of the "A Century of Song" project and co-host of the "Strange Currencies Podcast," Matt enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has a particular affinity for 60s pop, 90s indie rock, and post-bop jazz. He is an avid collector of vinyl, and a multi-instrumentalist who has played/recorded with several different bands and projects.

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