'BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?' CELEBRATES 60TH BIRTHDAY
NEW YORK, March 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The anthem song of the Great Depression "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?," which is generally credited as being a key element in the election of F.D.R. in 1932, was written that same year by Yip Harburg (lyricist) and Jay Gorney (composer).
Now on its 60th anniversary "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?," will be made available to the commercial music field for the first time by the heirs of the lyricist and composer, through the Harburg Foundation & Gorney Music Publishers, who became the co-music publishers of the song in 1990.
Because of the song's dramatic political history coupled with the fact that the rise and fall of "Dime's" royalties are often a precursor of both the good and bad times of our economy, they are also giving serious consideration to its inclusion as a key player in the 1992 Presidential Election.
This wonderful song whose uplifting energy inspired the working people of an entire nation, and which was compared to music of Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Debussy and Bartok in the book "The Language of Music" (Oxford University Press, 1989), by Deryck Cooke, had a humble but soulful genesis.
Born two years apart, Yip Harburg and Jay Gorney had their roots in the Jewish ghettos. Gorney, having lived in Russia till the age of six, and felt the whips of Cossacks across his face more than once; while Harburg was being raised in the bowels of New York City's Lower East Side by Russian immigrant parents. It's easy to see in retrospect how young men who shared the struggle of the forgotten man, the down-trodden and the unemployed, could write this musical "Grapes of Wrath," "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?," their indelible lullaby for labor.
Gorney and Harburg met through the popular light verse columnist Franklin P. Adams. Adams would publish the works of talented young writers who signed their work with pseudonyms. And so it was that Gorney found "Yip." they became friends and collaborators.
In 1932, Harburg was working on the show "Americana" about the theme Roosevelt had been talking about, The Forgotten Man (the men who had fought our wars, and had toiled to build our country.) In their new collaboration, Gorney and Harburg found themselves, as usual, walking and talking songs in West 77th St. in New York City, when a well dressed man approached them humbly and asked, "Brother, can you spare a dime?", and the song was created. Jay had the music, and Yip set the music to it.
Gorney had a distinguished career as a composer, writer, producer and teacher. He wrote the scores for some 16 Broadway musicals, 17 motion pictures and three television shows. ASCAP credits him with more than 200 popular songs. He also contributed original stories and screenplays for ten films, produced several of them, discovered Shirley Temple and co-produced several theatre musicals including "Meet The People." Despite this success as the creative soul of popular music Gorney was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1953. He politely declined to answer their questions on grounds of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and serenaded the committee with his musical setting of the First Amendment, "The Bill of Rights." For this, he was promptly blacklisted in the entertainment industry.
Yip Harburg did not escape the McCarthy period unscathed, even though hundreds of millions of people throughout the world had enjoyed his lyrics to Harold Arlens music, "Over The Rainbow" "Papermoon" and "Last Night When We Were Young," he too, was blacklisted.
Now, the 60th anniversary of the song Sandra Gorney and Ernie Harburg both agree that if Jay and Yip were writing today, surrounded by the homeless, economic despair, and political disillusionment, they might once again write
"Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?." For its lyrics asked the eternal question: They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead: "Why am I standing in line, just waiting for bread?"
Ernie Harburg and Sandra Gorney are both available to answer questions or for interviews through their spokesperson.
/CONTACT: Morton Dennis Wax of Morton Dennis Wax & Associates, 212-302-5360, for Harburg & Gorney/ CO: ST: IN: ENT SU: PS-SM -- NY003 -- 9061 03/18/92 08:45 EST