Tag Archives: Yip Harburg

A song about building the American Dream, railroads, towers, war, then being tossed aside to beg for change

Most Americans know the lyrics of this depression-era song. Now they know what it was about.
 
They used to tell me I was building a dream,
and so I followed the mob,
When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear,
I was always there right on the job.
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?

Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad; now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime;
Once I built a tower, now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,
Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
I was the kid with the drum!

Say, don’t you remember, they called me Al. It was Al all the time.
Say don’t you remember? I’m your pal. Buddy, can you spare a dime?