Now that we are, even according to Gordon Brown, facing a recession, it’s time to remind you all of the great song of the last major recession/depression: Yip Harburg‘s “Brother Can You Spare A Dime?”. Here’s the definitive version, by the great Bing Crosby in 1933:
Harburg was a left-wing Democrat who called himself a socialist and whose main claim to fame was writing all the songs and a great deal of the script of The Wizard of Oz: a thinly-disguised paeon to Roosevelt and the New Deal. He’d be right back in fashion now. And if this recession/depression produces anything as good as ‘Brother Can You Spare A Dime’, I for one will be very pleased and surprised.
Musicologists may wish to note the similarities with other Jewish minor-key themes like Gershwin’s “Summertime” and Berlin’s “Russian Lullaby”.