September 13, 1933 was “NRA Day”, celebrated in New York City with one of, if not the largest parade in the city’s history, complete with an appearance by the U.S. Navy’s airship U.S.S. Macon.
With today’s politics, hearing of the NRA brings to mind the National Rifle Association, but in days of yore, it held an entirely different meaning. In the 1930s, the abbreviation referred to the National Recovery Administration. That NRA was one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s earliest New Deal agencies, created in 1933 by the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA). With its signature “Blue Eagle” as the logo, the NRA set forth a series of codes and regulations intended to help employ more people and get the economy back on its feet. Though popular with many workers, the NRA was ruled unconstitutional by Supreme Court, thus bringing it to an end in May of 1935. During its existence from 1933 to 1935, NRA Blue Eagles were displayed in store windows and emblazoned on all sorts of consumer products, ranging from garments to fruit crates to record sleeves.
Perfect 13090 was recorded in two separate sessions on August 30, 1933 and September 9, 1934 at the American Record Corporation studios in New York City. The former session was Cox’s first with the ARC, having recorded previously with the Starr Piano Company (Gennett). Interestingly for a black label Perfect, this is a laminated pressing.
On this disc, the Dixie Songbird, Bill Cox laments to his sweetheart his employer’s delay in joining the NRA in what may just be the greatest political topical song of the Great Depression-era: “N. R. A. Blues”. “When they gonna join the NRA? Sweet thing, sweet thing. When they gonna join the NRA, I never have heard the big boss say. Sweet thing, yes baby mine.”
Starting out with a little bit of the old “Jack o’ Diamonds”, on the flip, Cox sings a low down old time country blues tune, “Hard Luck Blues”, sounding a bit like Jimmie Rodgers in his vocals on this side. A Great Depression-era country tune evocative of Dust Bowl times.
Updated with improved audio on June 23, 2017.