"Brother Can You Spare A Dime" as written by Jay Gorney and E. Y. Harburg....
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 sloggin' through hell
And I was the kid with the drum

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

Once in khaki suits, ah gee we looked swell
Full of that yankee doodly dum
Half a million boots went sloggin' through hell
And I was the kid with the drum

Oh, 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?


Lyrics submitted by planetearth, edited by Wendalore

"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" as written by Jay Gorney E. Y. Harburg

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., NEXT DECADE ENTERTAINMENT,INC., SHAPIRO BERNSTEIN & CO. INC.

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Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentThis was the anthem of the Great Depression. It's a powerful song, depressing.
    Maliejandraon July 31, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyer depressing but good i like it (but im a social outkast so my views dont matter all that much)
    LimeLighton December 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHopefully you aren’t serious about your views being unimportant—naturally there are. I met Al—a crazed angel who absolutely loves to sing this wonderful song.

    Hey, Harry … just wild about ...
    sillybunnyon September 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSong was written after world War one Vets were promised a check for fighting and when they came home the Government wouldn't pony up. Thousands camped out in front of the white house demanding that Theodore Roosevelt give them the money that was promised to them. This was during the Great depression and as share croppers left the dust bowl in search of work many ended up up joining the protest in Dc. Which we can now thank for the GI bill. Great Song.
    babygaigeon December 15, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis was during the Great depression and as share croppers left the dust bowl in search of work many ended up up joining the protest in Dc. Which we can now thank for the GI bill.
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    nexiumvsprilosecon March 12, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThousands camped out in front of the white house demanding that Theodore Roosevelt give them the money that was promised to them.
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    Vicodindosageon March 13, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSong was written in 1930.
    The president was Herbert Hoover.
    President Theodore Roosevelt served from 1901-1909.
    He died in 1919.
    Franklin Roosevelt was elected in Nov 1932, but didn't assume his role until 1933.
    alberslhon March 19, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFunny, the inaccurate history that some of these comments give. The last comment from March 19, 2013 attempts to correct them, but doesn't make it very clear what he is saying. Seems to expect people will pay attention long enough to compare what he said with what they said.

    He's saying that the song was not written right after World War I ("The Great War" it was called, before Word War II happened)

    World War I ended in 1918. This song was written in 1931.

    It was not written about Theodore Roosevelt paying or not paying the soldiers the money they were owed for fighting in WWI. Theodore Roosevelt was President from 1901-1909. World War I hadn't started yet. WWI took place from 1914 to 1918. Theodore Roosevelt died in 1919. Googling this matter of the soldiers not getting paid in WWI, I see that this is not true. Soldiers were paid in for fighting in both world wars.

    FRANKLIN, not Theodore Roosevelt was President around the time this song was popular. Franklin Roosevelt saved the country from the Great Depression. (something that current (2015) Republicans don't like to admit.) because he did so by putting the unemployed to work creating great public works, like dams.

    This song IS about the people of this country fighting WWI, building railroads and cities, and now finding themselves jobless and poverty stricken. This happened because of the mishandling of money by the rich, similar to how it has been mishandled recently by Republicans, and Republican policies. After the Great Depression, anti-trust laws were instituted. They kept big businesses from joining with other big businesses and muscling the small businessman out of the competition. When there is nothing but big corporations and no small businesses, they can charge whatever they want for goods. Anti-trust laws have been ignored. The recent Trans Pacific Partnership is horrifying to me and should be to any American. How is a small business in America supposed to compete with businesses in other countries where the worker is paid one tenth or less of what the American worker is paid. You see now that more and more people should be singing this song. How many people's parents worked and worked to buy a house to leave to their kids—and those houses are gone. The kids didn't get them, they live in apartments.

    So that is what this song is about. The people working their fingers off and getting nothing for it—stolen from them by the rich. Except they did not know what happened to it, just that it was gone. Now we know—what happened in the cash of 1929 has been analyzed.

    Obama has been a pretty good President. There is nothing more ridiculous, there has been nothing as ridiculous in the history of this country as the shark, Donald Trump, actually the front runner in the Republican campaign. The country continues to march toward disaster, as the rich involve us in more wars to distract us from the fact that 1 % of the population owns 99 % of the wealth of this country. This is America? This is a democracy? The people of America voted for THIS? I don't think so.
    Wendaloreon October 07, 2015   Link

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