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"How Dry I Am" is an old drinking song that laments Prohibition, or the "dry" movement of the early twentieth century. Little is known of the song's origins, except that it takes its tune from an even older hymn, "O Happy Day". Early reports record the refrain as follows:
How dry I am! How dry I am!
Nobody knows how dry I am.
In 1919, Irving Berlin recorded a song entitled "The Near Future", which borrowed from and popularized the refrain. By the 1930s, the song was making regular appearances in popular media, especially cartoons, to indicate drunkenness.
Some prohibitionists embraced "How Dry I Am" as an anthem of the movement's success. This has led to some confusion among collectors over the intended meaning of pinback buttons that bear the phrase. Some claim that the buttons advocated for Prohibition while others describe the items as "humorous" or "cheeky".
A dry and wet discussion. (1920, August). Current Opinion, 69(2), 228-230. Retrieved from https://books.google.com
Morris, J. (2010, August 5). Prohibition songs and baseball's summer classic. The Mercury News. Retrieved from https://www.mercurynews.com
The Near Future. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved August 1, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Near_Future