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Friday, January 31, 1997

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  • Who Put the Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz?: A Tribute to "Yip" Harburg.

    For the 100-year anniversary of E.Y. "Yip" Harburg’s birth, Democracy Now! spoke with Ernie Harburg, Yip’s son and co-author of Yip’s biography, Who Put the Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz?: Yip Harburg, Lyricist. Best known for writing the lyrics for The Wizard of Oz, Yip also wrote the musical Bloomer Girl, which was about women’s suffrage, and Finian’s Rainbow, which dealt with race and class struggles. Yip believed that songs are an anodyne against tyranny and terror and that the artist has historically always been on the side of humanity. As a committed socialist, he spent three years in Uruguay to avoid being involved in WWI, as he felt that capitalism was responsible for the destruction of the human spirit, and he refused to fight its wars. A longtime friend of Ira Gershwin, Harburg started writing lyrics after he lost his business in the Crash of 1929. Harburg went on to write many classic American songs, such as "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" and was blacklisted during the McCarthy era for using his lyrics to express anti-racist, anti-corporate, and pro-worker political messages. [includes rush transcript]