E. Y. (Yip) Harburg, known as “Broadway’s social conscience” was a master lyricist, poet and book writer dedicated to social justice. His most well known songs include “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” and “Over The Rainbow.” Yip also wrote the lyrics to the rest of The Wizard of Oz and edited the final screenplay. The film is now celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
Yip’s Broadway classic is the witty socially conscious Finian’s Rainbow, (1947 music by Burton Lane; co-book by Fred Saidy.)
Yip was a “fellow who followed a dream.” He believed that all people should be guaranteed basic human rights, political equality, free education and economic opportunity – beliefs he personified through his actions and songs.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree;
And only God who makes the tree
Also makes the fools like me.
But only fools like me, you see,
Can make a God, who makes a tree.
– “Atheist” by E. Y. “Yip” Harburg
From Rhymes for the Irreverent