Monday, August 26, 2013

Yip Harburg, "rebel by birth"

Leigh Donaldson, in a piece written in 2011, called him "Father of the Socially Conscious Lyric", I knew of him via the lyrics of two of his best-known songs: Brother Can You Spare a Dime and Over the Rainbow. Yip Harburg (Edgar Yipsel Harburg). He was born on New York City's Lower East Side in 1896, son of Russian-Jewish parents who were employed in a garment sweatshop. Yip worked there briefly too. He is reported to have said: “We didn’t know we were poor, we were too busy living life to the fullest.“ Leigh Donaldson, in his piece HERE wrote:
"....few appreciate his deeper dreams of democratic socialism behind so many of his lyrics and poems."

Yip Harburg In his own words:
I am a rebel by birth. ... I contest anything that is unjust, that causes suffering in humanity. My feelings about that are so strong, I don't think I could live with myself if I weren't honest.

They used to tell me
I was building a dream
with peace and glory ahead.
Why should I be standing in line
just waiting for bread?

Brother Can You Spare a Dime has long been a favourite song of mine. This is one of the best modern versions, and accompanying visuals - had me in tears. Bett Butler sings:

Another good one:

Dr John, Odetta and, again, some apt visuals:

Because of its poignant reflection of workers during the Depression who had been forgotten or misplaced, Brother Can You Spare a Dime became a jumping off point for Harburg's further success. The melody, composed by Jay Gorney is based on an old Russian lullaby.

Others have called Harburg outspoken, liberal and uncompromising but also sentimemntal, romantic and humourous.
"He was a man of strong moral and political beliefs who exhibited great tolerance toward those whose politics differed from his own. He believed in the power of lyrics and used that power to move audiences both emotionally and artistically.
Yip Harburg was a victim of the Hollywood blacklist when movie studio bosses blacklisted industry people for suspected involvement or sympathy with the American Communist Party"

He died in March 1981. A list of his best-known song titles can be seen HERE

A quick look at his natal chart then - can we spot the rebel ingredient?

No birth time is available so the chart is set for 12 noon.

I'd like to bet that he was born before 10:00 AM, which would put natal Moon in late Aquarius conjunct Mars.
That'd be a recipe for a rebel! Sun and Mercury in impulsive Aries would blend well and intensify his urge to
outspoken criticism of whatever he saw as unjust.

It's really Uranus, the rebel planet, I'm looking for here. It's in Scorpio, conjunct Saturn. It forms a Grand Trine - like the one in Abbie Hoffman's chart in yesterday's post? Not exactly, but there are similarities. In Hoffman's chart Uranus/Venus/Neptune were linked, in Harburg's it's Uranus/Venus/Jupiter, with Saturn conjunct Uranus. Harburg was getting his Jupiter pulls via this Grand Trine; Hoffman got his via his trio of personal planets in Sagittarius, including Jupiter in its home sign. Harburg's Grand Trine is in Water signs - emotional, whereas Hoffman's were in Earth - practical.

George Michael sings us out with another version of that song:


mike said...

He has a yod, too, with Saturn directly opposing the midpoint of Sun sextile Neptune. Uranus' involvement with Saturn draws Uranus into the yod. Similar to Hoffman.

I hadn't heard the George Michael's version...enjoyed it.

Maybe it's this way for all countries, but America was taken from the Native Americans, then built by the blood of immigrants and slaves that were society's denigrated and ostracized. America has its inherent caste system of race, ethnicity, monetary holdings, education, religion, and gender. It has always been in the best interest of the elite to designate the subservient (those dependent on the "dime").

“Into this wild-beast tangle these men had been born without their consent, they had taken part in it because they could not help it; that they were in jail was no disgrace to them, for the game had never been fair, the dice were loaded. They were swindlers and thieves of pennies and dimes, and they had been trapped and put out of the way by the swindlers and thieves of millions of dollars.”
Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

Twilight said...

mike ~~ Sure enough! Yes! I sensed a similarity to Hoffman, but a quieter, more mature style of rebellion.

George Michael has such a great voice. I've said before on the blog, somewhere, he should've been one of the greats, if only his addiction hadn't led him to do daft stuff in public places. That track comes from a very good George Michael CD I have: "Songs from the 20th Century".

I think it is the same for all countries, mike - or similar anyway, depending on where and when, size of country etc. All finish with layers of hierarchy, one sort or another, whatever their political system.

I remember something we did in the science lab at school (very rudimentary science mind you) where we had 5 or 6 different liquids of different colours, put them together and they all found their natural level in a test tube or flask, eventually formed clear layers - just like humans do. ;-) The fact that it might be a natural phenomenon doesn't stop us feeling angry when the top layers get out of hand though.

"Wild-beast tangle" --good description of Mr Sinclair's!