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Published on Oct 27, 2008
Fred Astaire - Puttin' On The Ritz (I.Berlin), Columbia 1930
NOTE: Although Irving Berlin's 1930 song was originally written for vaudevillian Harry Richman, it has become indelibly associated with Astaire, who also recorded it for Columbia in 1930. Sixteen years later he would record the song once more, performing it in the film Blue Skies. This song is an excellent example of the equivocal nature of popular culture during the Depression. While the lyrics speak of the "well-to-do" and seem to celebrate decadence, the lines "watch them spend their last two bits/puttin' on that Ritz" suggest the despair and nihilism of the era.