Democracy Now has produced a powerful tribute to the lyricist Yip Harburg. Harburg honestly captured the spirit of the Great Depression in “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime.” He went on to write lyrics for stage shows/films that included “The Wizard of Oz” and “Finian’s Rainbow.” After WWII, Harburg was an early victim of Senator Joe McCarthy’s witch hunt. Blacklisted, he could not work on a film project until the 1960s.
Harburg believed in telling the truth, especially about the struggles of working people. What I like most about this film tribute to Harburg was its display of his courage and strength, his faith in a better world – somewhere over the rainbow.
One of my favorite jazz singers Kurt Elling recorded Harburg’s “April in Paris.” Check out this video to see how Harburg’s words sing on.