Who Put the Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz?: Yip Harburg, Lyricist Paperback – Aug 1 1995
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From Library Journal
From his Russian-Jewish, New York City roots through his prolific working years as lyricist for such successes as the film The Wizard of Oz and Broadway's Bloomer Girl and Finian's Rainbow, E. Y. ("Yip") Harburg seemed ready for anything but the McCarthyism that blacklisted him in the 1950s for his associations with certain groups and his avowal of "democratic socialist" ideals. Illustrated with lyrics from his entire output, this admiring title adds to the literature on the history of the Broadway musical the perspective of an accomplished wordsmith who collaborated with major composers like Harold Arlen, Burton Lane, Vernon Duke, and Jerome Kern but whose own name has been less well remembered. A worthwhile addition for large musical theater collections.
- Bonnie Jo Dopp, formerly with Dist. of Columbia P.L.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?," "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" and "April in Paris" are some of the most beloved songs of the American musical theater. Their lyricist, Yip Harburg, was, like so many of his peers, the son of Jewish immigrants, Russian in his case, who settled on the lower-east side of Manhattan. Inspired by the theater at an early age, he did not begin his career until he was in his thirties and had spent a stint managing the family business--an experience he detested. One of the songsmiths who changed the American musical from the revue format into a so-called book show in which song and dance became media for telling a dramatic story, Harburg's most famous collaborators were Harold Arlen, his partner in 111 efforts including The Wizard of Oz, and Barton Lane, with whom his most famous product was Finian's Rainbow. This biography benefits from the collaboration of Harburg's son Ernie; plenty of pictures; appendixes of Harburg's stage, film, and broadcast credits; a list of his song titles; and lots of quoted lyrics. Edward Lighthart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Yip Harburg - lyricist for Finian's Rainbow, Bloomer Girl, and Wizard of Oz, as well as a metric ton of standards in the American songbook - ranks with such colleagues as Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, and Lorenz Hart. Unlike most of his rivals, he had mastered the old French "trick" verse forms like villanelle, triolet, and rondeau. His lyrics tend to read well, even without their tunes.
Contrary to popular opinion, however, he did not introduce sophisticated wit into the American lyric. That tradition went back to P. G. Wodehouse's contributions to Kern's Princess shows, at least. What he did bring in was a concern for social issues (his first big hit was "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"), a unique fancy, and a gallon of knockabout humor. He mastered the comic song, as "Lydia, the Tatood Lady" for Groucho Marx amply shows. He also is probably the classic pop lyricist who pushed metaphor and simile to their limit while keeping the breezy American idiom and without crossing over to the deadeningly Arty.
Meyerson and Harburg (Yip's son) do a great job of laying out the roots of the political and cultural movements Yip came from. They do a bang-up job analyzing lyrics without getting too technical. They also include an addendum, written by Yip, on "cosmic mysteries." Harburg came to a hard, realistic atheism early and stuck with it, but he was a dreamer by temperament and by conviction. Consequently, there's an interesting tension throughout the chapter that lifts it above the trite and New Age-y. It's also funny as hell.
The only reason I don't give this book 5 stars is because I can't bring myself to mention it in the same breath as Anna Karenina. However, it's still a wonderful book on one of our best song poets.
Every time I mention Yip Harburg in a conversation and get "Who?" in response, I offer to loan them this book.
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