Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday Night Music Video: "Anacostia" by The Hangdogs

The Hangdogs were an alt-country band from New York City that was active during the height of the No Depression music scene in the late 1990s. Unlike other artists in the movement like Wilco and Old 97s, they were never able to even sniff mainstream success, probably because they insisted upon recording serious songs like "Wallace '48" (lamentably unavailable on You Tube), which sang the praises of former Vice President Henry Wallace's doomed 1948 progressive, antiwar presidential campaign.

One of the few Hangdogs songs that is available online is the harrowing "Anacostia," which is about the Bonus Army of World War One veterans. The Bonus Army rallied in Washington D.C. in 1932 as the Great Depression was reaching its nadir to demand that the U.S. Government uphold its financial promises to them for their sacrifices in the Great War, only to be forcibly ousted by their own former comrades led by egomaniacal General Douglas MacArthur who, as the song says, "turned the bayonets around on his own."


  1. Thanks so much for putting this on! I feel ridiculous that I didn't know more about Henry Wallace. I saw this reference to him and did a quick search --- I was blown away by this guy. I love these old school populists! I recently reread "All the King's Men" (like the 4th time probably, and got all enamored with Huey Long again). Seriously, everyone should read that book. But anyway, Henry Wallace sounds a bit more ummm, honest. (but don't get me wrong, I loves me my Huey Long)I plan on visiting my niece in NOLA this year and will do a pilgrimage to some Long sites in Louisiana.

    It sort of pisses me off that growing up I had to hear "last name's Wallace, huh? Any relation to George? heh, heh" All I knew as a kid was that George was a disgrace and I didn't like people saying that.

    The Bonus Army is another fascinating topic. I've always felt ashamed that Eisenhower helped out with all that, even if he disagreed with MacArthur.

    This is a ridiculous aside, but my mom named her pet cat MacArthur when she was a little girl and he always got into fights! She lived in Manhattan, KS (where they have the veterinary school) and her neighbor was a professor. He would patch up the cat so he could fight another day......but I ramble!

    Thanks for bringing up this fellow Wallace and the bonus army! Such compelling tales.

    1. No problem, Kathleen. Isn't it funny how the real heroes of American History get completely forgotten? How many people, for example, know who Eugene Debs is, even though millions voted for him as the Socialist candidate for president during the first two decades of the last century? It's sad, really.

  2. Wow...The Hangdogs. If only the folks 'sniffing' success could make music as heavy and as worth a deep listen as they did. Well done Bill. Great read. Thanks for sharing.