Yip Harburg…

was born on this date in 1896. One of the great lyricists, Harburg would be loved by us all if only for —

Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true

Some day I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me

Somewhere over the rainbow blue birds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can’t I?
If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow
Why oh why can’t I?

The Harburg Foundation provides this biographical sketch:

Edgar Y. (Yip) Harburg (1896-1981) was born of Russian-Jewish immigrant parents of modest means on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He attended the City University of New York. In high school (Townsand Harris) he met his lifelong friend, Ira Gershwin and discovered that they shared a mutual love for the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. Yip and Ira were frequent contributors of poetry and light verse to their high school and college papers.

The years after college found Yip slipping further away from writing and eventually into the world of business. After the electric appliance business Yip had helped develop over seven long years was decimated by the stock market crash of 1929, Yip turned his attention back full time to the art of writing lyrics. His old friend Ira Gershwin became a mentor, co-writer and promoter of Yip’s.

Mr. Harburg’s Broadway achievements included Bloomer Girl, Finnian’s Rainbow, Flahooley and Jamaica.

His most noted work in film musicals was in The Wizard of OZ for which he wrote lyrics, was the final editor and contributed much to the script (including the scene at the end where the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion are rewarded for their efforts by the Wizard). He also wrote lyrics for the Warner Brothers movie, Gay Purr-ee.

Yip was “blacklisted” during the 50’s by film, radio and television for his liberal views.

In all, Yip wrote lyrics to 537 songs including; “Brother Can You Spare a Dime”, “April In Paris”, “It’s Only a Paper Moon”, “Hurry Sundown”, “Lydia the Tattooed Lady”, “How Are Things In Glocca Mora” and of course his most famous… “Over the Rainbow”.