Amanda Thorpe Bewitches the American Songbook

January 13, 2015 5:56 PM

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"Yip wrote about universal human emotions and conditions, his lyrics have remained remarkably relevant. In every day and age we have had dreamers, lovers and soul searchers. But Yip was also a human rights activist and he viewed his songs as more than mere entertainment. Theodore Taylor - in a biography about composer Jule Styne - said Yip was often 'caught at the art of sneaking social messages into his lyrics.' Per Yip, '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."

Perhaps if Edgar Yipsel "Yip" Harburg had plugged in an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, we'd revere his canon as much as we do the works of Robert Allen Zimmerman. Nowadays the name of this iconic pop lyricist born Isidore Hochberg on New York's Lower East Side in the year 1896...

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