“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

spare a dimeWritten in 1932 by Yip Harburg and Jay Gorney for the show New Americana, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” became one of the anthems of the Great Depression.  The singer expresses his cynicism and disillusionment with the country.  Gone are the patriotic themes of Yankee Doodle Dandy that were widespread throughout Broadway in the post-World War I years leading up to the stock market crash.  Instead, the singer here bemoans the fact that he helped build this country and bought into the idea of the “American dream” and now feels his country has forsaken him.

Please read through the lyrics then give the song a listen.  I’m including the version sung by Al Jolson, although the Bing Crosby version may be better known now.

“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

They used to tell me I was building a dream

And so I followed the mob

When there was earth to plow or guns to bear

I was always there, right on the job

They used to tell me I was building a dream

With peace and glory ahead

Why should I be standing in line

Just waiting for bread?

Once I built a railroad, I made it run

Made it race against time

Once I built a railroad, now it’s done

Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once I built a tower up to the sun

Brick, mortar, and lime

Once I built a tower, now it’s done

Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee, we looked swell

Full of that “Yankee Doodley Dum”

Half a million boots went slogging through Hell

And I was the kid with the drum

Say, don’t you remember? They called me ‘Al’

It was ‘Al’ all the time

Say, don’t you remember? I’m your pal

Say buddy, can you spare a dime?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4F4yT0KAMyo[/youtube]

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