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Who Put the Rainbow in the Wizard of Oz?: Yip Harburg, Lyricist Paperback – Aug 1 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 454 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press (Aug. 1 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472083120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472083121
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 771 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,161,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 5 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Portrait of a creative mind and passionate soul March 29 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Yip Harburg, the prodigiously talented lyricist best known for "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" and "Over the Rainbow", is the subject of this splendid biography. Harburg's gifts were uniquely his, but this book shows us how his (financially, but not spiritually) impoverished father cultivated Harburg's talents by taking him regularly to the Yiddish theater on the Lower East Side and reading funny stories to him in the evening. Harburg's insights into the elements of creative writing-- a sense of passion, an eye for paradox, an intelligent plan, e.t.c.-- are recounted in loving detail. Whether you read this book for insight into this wonderful man's heart, or his craft, you will be richly rewarded.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Portrait of a creative mind and passionate soul April 29 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Yip Harburg, the prodigiously talented lyricist best known for "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," and "Over the Rainbow", is the subject of this splendid biography. Harburg's gifts were uniquely his, but this book shows us how his (financially but not spiritually) impoverished father cultivate Harburg's talents by taking him regularly to the Yiddish theater on the Lower East Side and reading funny stories to him in the evening. Harburg's insights into the elements of creative writing -- a sense of passion, an eye for paradox, an intelligent plan, etc-- are recounted in loving detail. Whether you read this book for insight into this wonderful man's heart, or his craft, you will be richly rewarded.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A must for Wizard of Oz fanatics Sept. 29 2011
By Charles A Troy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was a revelation -- an inside look as to how this movie classic got written that is not covered nearly as well in the profuse printed and video materials on the subject. It tells the surprising story of how Yip Harburg, a relatively little-known lyricist in Hollywood at the time, was picked for this plum assignment along with Harold Arlen. And then how he did far more than write the lyrics -- he made a critical casting suggestion, and made the script a success by pulling all the diverse versions of the screenplay into a coherent whole. In other words, he was critical to the success of this all-time favorite film. The rest of the book, co-authored by Harburg's son, covers the rest of Harburg's life and work, which had not even been addressed before -- or since -- in all the myriad of books on the great musicals and their creators.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A long time coming Oct. 24 2010
By Steven Schwartz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I worry that the classic American popular song - those songs written from roughly 1910 to 1950 by such lights as Gershwin, Kern, Berlin, Rodgers, and Arlen - will disappear from mass neglect. It's almost gone from radio and TV - drowned out by rock, R & B, techno, hip-hop, etc. I'm amazed a publisher took a chance on this book, and more power to him. One of the great things about these songs was that they *were* popular. They became a part of people's emotional and intellectual DNA, and we lose a large, important part of ourselves as Americans if we forget them.

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.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Songwriter's story Oct. 12 2010
By Barbi Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the life of this amazing lyricist. There is so much more to songwriting than just rhyming June and moon. This man was a true craftsman... a good read.


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