Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?", also sung as "Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?", is one of the best-known American songs of the Great Depression. Written in 1930 by lyricist E. Y. "Yip" Harburg and composer Jay Gorney, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" was part of the 1932 musical New Americana; the melody is based on a Russian lullaby Gorney heard as a child. It became best known, however, through recordings by Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee. Both versions were released right before Franklin Delano Roosevelt's election to the presidency and both became number one hits on the charts. The Brunswick Crosby recording became the best-selling record of its period, and came to be viewed as an anthem of the shattered dreams of the era.
Rudy Vallee's recording is considered one of the most famous versions.
|Problems listening to this file? See media help.|
The song asks why the men who built the nation – built the railroads, built the skyscrapers – who fought in the war (World War I), who tilled the earth, who did what their nation asked of them should, now that the work is done and their labor no longer necessary, find themselves abandoned, in bread lines.
Musical structure 
The song has unusual structure for a Broadway song. Firstly, rather than starting in a major key, as most Broadway songs do, it begins in a minor key, which is darker, and more appropriate for the Depression. When discussing the prosperous past and building the railroads, the song jumps an octave and moves briefly into a major key, evoking energy and optimism. It then reverts to the augmented dominant of the minor key in the word "time" in the line "Once I built a railroad, made it run / Made it race against time," marking the end of prosperous times, and changing to a wistful mood. The song then ends, not on a note of resignation, but with anger – repeating the beginning (as is usual for Broadway songs), an octave higher, but with a significant change: the friendly "Brother, can you spare a dime?" is replaced with the aggressive "Buddy, can you spare a dime?"
Once we had a Roosevelt
Praise the Lord!
Life had meaning and hope.
Now we're stuck with Nixon, Agnew, Ford,
Brother, can you spare a rope?
Other recordings 
- Les Deux Love Orchestra recorded a version in 2009 which appeared on The Huffington Post.
- George Michael recorded a version for his 1999 album Songs from the Last Century.
- A recording by Walker Edmiston is featured during the Great Depression scene of The American Adventure attraction at Epcot within Walt Disney World Resort.
- Giddins, G. (2001). Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams, The Early Years, 1903 - 1940. Little, Brown, p.305.
- Marching on Washington: The Forging of an American Political Tradition, Lucy G. Barber, 2004 p. 104
- The Twentieth Century: A People's History, by Howard Zinn, p. 116
- A Depression-Era Anthem For Our Times National Public Radio's Weekend Edition (November 15, 2008).
- Song by song: the lives and work of 14 great lyric writers, Caryl Brahms, Ned Sherrin, p. 125–126
- Cutting edge, or, "Back in the knife-box, Miss Sharp": Ned Sherrin's anthology of wit, Ned Sherrin, 1984, p. 140 (rope, dime)
- Woods, Bobby (May 25, 2011). "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
- "Songs from the Last Century". AllMusic.
- "The American Adventure". WDWMagic.com.
- Songs of the Great Depression – lyrics, prepared by Professor Catherine Lavender for courses in The Department of History, The College of Staten Island of The City University of New York.
- Explanation of lyrics
- There are multiple videos of this song on Youtube. Included at the time of this note are the Bing Crosby & Rudy Vallee recordings and at least one Spanish language version.