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Known as "Broadway's social conscience," E. Y. Harburg (1896-1981) wrote the lyrics to the standards, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?," "April in Paris," and "It's Only a Paper Moon," as well as all of the songs in The Wizard of Oz, including "Over the Rainbow." Harburg always included a strong social and political component to his work, fighting racism, poverty, and war. Interweaving close to fifty interviews (most of them previously unpublished), over forty lyrics, and a number of Harburg's poems, Harriet Hyman...
Known as "Broadway's social conscience," E. Y. Harburg (1896-1981) wrote the lyrics to the standards, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?," "April in Paris," and "It's Only a Paper Moon," as well as all of the songs in The Wizard of Oz, including "Over the Rainbow." Harburg always included a strong social and political component to his work, fighting racism, poverty, and war. Interweaving close to fifty interviews (most of them previously unpublished), over forty lyrics, and a number of Harburg's poems, Harriet Hyman Alonso enables Harburg to talk about his life and work. He tells of his early childhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, his public school education, how the Great Depression opened the way to writing lyrics, and his work on Broadway and Hollywood, including his blacklisting during the McCarthy era. Finally, but most importantly, Harburg shares his commitment to human rights and the ways it affected his writing and his career path. Includes an appendix with Harburg's key musicals, songs, and films.
Verdict Though interesting, this book duplicates much of the material in the excellent Who Put the Rainbow in the Wizard of Oz? by Harold Meyerson and Harburg’s son, Ernie, and will appeal to a limited audience.—David P. Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
“The book is far more lively and less politically earnest than its title suggests. In fact, it is downright chatty, being essentially a sort of oral history Alonso crafted out of nearly 50 published and unpublished transcripts of radio and television broadcasts, speeches, roundtables, and conversations in which Harburg participated over the years.”—James M. Keller, Pasatiempo
“an excellent introduction to the artist.”—Joseph Epstein, The Wall Street Journal
“…a good portrait of that picturesque leprechaun of a fellow who followed a crock of gold past that paper moon to somewhere over the rainbow.”—Steven Suskin, Playbill
List of Illustrations Preface A Note to the Reader What's in a Name?
Early Years Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
A Pause for Jay Gorney Yip's Path to Show Business Success A Pause for Vernon Duke From Hollywood to Oz and Back A Pause for Harold Arlen Human Rights Activism Takes Center Stage A Pause for Agnes de Mille Yip's Case Study of Finian's Rainbow A Pause for Burton Lane Anger, Frustration, and Persistence During the McCarthy Years A Pause for Friendship During Hard Times The New Old Yip Acknowledgements Appendix: Musicals, Films, and Songs Notes Bibliography Lyric Credits Index
Posted January 4, 2013
Based on interviews conducted over many years with Yip Harburg, Harriet Alonso has created an eminently readable, insightful, and entertaining portrait of this remarkable, many-facted man. She traces the history and development of this child of poor immigrant parents on New York's Lower East Side who grew up to work with almost every major composer of the American musical in its golden age. In her characteristically clear style she has used the interview material and many well- and lesser-known Harburg lyrics to leave the reader with the feeling that he or she has actually met and spent time with him, appreciating his great talent, wisdom, humor, and humanity. This is must reading for anyone interested in the American cultural, musical, and political scene of the mid twentieth century and beyond.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.