Mudcat Café message #2123199 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #102273   Message #2123199
Posted By: Leadbelly
10-Aug-07 - 02:08 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Buddy Can you Spare a Dime - who was Al?
Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Al in Buddy Can you Spare a D
This was found on Maybe of interest although doesn't explain Al. Manfred

    In "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime," Harburg creates an Everyman narrator for his song, a person who has built railroads, skyscrapers,. and tilled the fields. This person has contributed to the vast bounty of the land (through his plow) and kept faith with the promise of the land by bearing guns for it in time of war. There is even a veiled allusion to the mytheme of manifest destiny when the narrator tries to understand how, after he has helped build a dream of "peace and glory ahead," he can now be standing in a breadline. And there is a somewhat ironic allusion to the patriot's mytheme in the lines where he describes the half-million "boots" that went slogging through hell "Full of that Yankee Doodle-de-dum." This last line would remind listeners of the old Revolutionary War song, and also of George M. Cohan's "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and his "Over There." The allusion is veiled enough that Harburg wouldn't necessarily bring down the wrath of the man who once "owned Broadway" but the line serves as a mild indictment of the patriotism that swept us into war but seems not to be reciprocal. Harburg has said of his narrator that he isn't bitter, "He's bewildered. Here is a man who had built his faith and hope in this country. . . . Then came the crash. Now he can't accept the fact that the bubble has burst. He still believes. He still has faith. He just doesn't understand what could have happened to make everything go so wrong" (quoted in 1971, Green 69).
    Timothy Scheurer, Born in the USA, Jackson, Mississippi, 1991, pp. 118-119.