Roosevelt, Franklin D. (1882–1945) [Powell, Dick. 1904–1963)]
"The Road is Open Again" - Signed Sheet Music
New York: M. Witmark & Sons. 1933. First.
Color printed sheet music signed "Franklin D Roosevelt" in bold fountain pen ink to the cover, issued on the year he ran as Democratic Candidate for the United States President. The cover text reading in full "The Road is Open Again / As Sung by Dick Powell in the Warner Bros. & Vitaphone NRA Short / The Road is Open Again / with Warner Bros. Most Famous Stars / Lyric by Irving Kahal / Music by Sammy Fain / M. Witmark & Sons New York / Made in USA" and features a serious looking Roosevelt to the right, with an inset image of Powell sitting at the piano at lower left. 6 pp. 9 x 12 inches (22.8 x 30.5 cm.). Circular stamp to lower edge ("Lyric Music Shop Camden, N.J."), overall in fine condition.
In times of adversity and challenge, catchy songs or phrases have captured Americans’ imaginations, rallying spirits and action. The unofficial National Recovery Act theme song, “The Road Is Open Again,” written in 1933, promises golden times, more employment, and better financial conditions thanks to Roosevelt’s New Deal policies. Its spirited, can-do lyrics cheered the NRA, appealing to movie fans and uptempo swingers alike.
An eager Jack Warner had asked Warner Bros. publicity man George Bilson to come up with a can-do title and story, with studio composers Irving Kahal and Sammy Fain creating a catchy ditty to match Bilson’s peppy “The Road Is Open Again” title. Warners’ hit musical phenomenon, Dick Powell, would star. The spirited “The Road Is Open Again” eventually became “the Marching Song of the New Deal.” The opening introduction introduces hope before launching into the chorus, which starts, “There’s a new day in view, there is gold in the blue, there is hope in the hearts of men… .” Happier times and sunny lands lie ahead thanks to the Blue Eagle, which sits on the shoulder of the President.
Patriotic Warner Bros. released two shorts in support of the NRA in 1933, “The Road Is Open Again,” produced on the West Coast, and the more serious, “The New Deal,” produced on the East Coast. The American public quickly embraced the song, buying the sheet music featuring Dick Powell and Franklin Roosevelt on the cover, and performing it as a patriotic rallying cry at meetings and productions. Tune master Al Jolson even sang “The Road is Open Again” on KFI September 14, 1933, after performing a skit saluting the Civilian Conservation Corps.