BUDDY CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?
WHAT DO THE LYRICS MEAN? <ul><li>Once I build a railroad, made it run, Made it race against time. Once I built a railroad,...
<ul><li>Once I built a tower </li></ul><ul><li>to the sun, </li></ul><ul><li>Brick and rivet and </li></ul><ul><li>line. <...
<ul><li>Once in khaki suits - gee, we looked swell! Full of that Yankeedoodleedum! Half a million boots went slogging thro...
THERE IS A ‘LOST’ VERSE. AFTER WE HAVE LOOKED AT IT, TRY TO DECIDE WHY IT IS RARELY SUNG, OR EVEN REFERED TO.
<ul><li>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 bea...
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Buddy Can You Spare A Dime Lyrics Explanation

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Analysis of the lyrics of the famous Great Depression song

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  • 2nd verse, it's 'brick and rivet and lime,' as in limestone cement. Also rhymes with 'dime.' Came up this morning on my i pod. Played it 4 times straight (Rudy Vallee version with 'mystery verse'). Possibly one of the best poetic descriptions in social history.
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  • mermaidliz, I don't think there's much mystery about it, the speaker (actually speaking for the impoverished and unemployed people in the country) 'followed the mob' trying to live out what they had been told was the American way. When the country needed farmers, laborers, any sort of work to be done, and especially when they were called to war, the people saw it as their duty. Now they wonder why they have to stand in line for a handout of bread. The speaker feels betrayed, powerless, and duped by a country that used him, and he can't believe it.
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  • could someone explain me the last 'mysterious' verse?
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  • Good job. Explained clearly on the lyrics.

    Ana Mui, www.lyrics-search.org/
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Transcript of "Buddy Can You Spare A Dime Lyrics Explanation"

  1. 1. BUDDY CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?
  2. 2. WHAT DO THE LYRICS MEAN? <ul><li>Once I build a railroad, made it run, Made it race against time. Once I built a railroad, now it's done. Buddy, can you spare a dime? </li></ul><ul><li>This verse talks of the boom in the 1920’s and the fact that money was spent trying to cross America as fast as possible by train. </li></ul><ul><li>“… now it’s done. Buddy can you spare a dime?” This lyric refers to the fact that they are out of work and poor due to the depression </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Once I built a tower </li></ul><ul><li>to the sun, </li></ul><ul><li>Brick and rivet and </li></ul><ul><li>line. </li></ul><ul><li>Once I built a tower, </li></ul><ul><li>now it's done. </li></ul><ul><li>Buddy, can you spare </li></ul><ul><li>a dime? </li></ul><ul><li>The money that was </li></ul><ul><li>made during the </li></ul><ul><li>boom was used by </li></ul><ul><li>wealthy businessmen </li></ul><ul><li>to try to outdo each </li></ul><ul><li>other by building </li></ul><ul><li>skyscrapers (Empire </li></ul><ul><li>State, Chrysler). </li></ul><ul><li>Again, with the Wall </li></ul><ul><li>street crash, there was </li></ul><ul><li>not a lot of spare money </li></ul><ul><li>about. So no work and </li></ul><ul><li>poverty. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Once in khaki suits - gee, we looked swell! Full of that Yankeedoodleedum! Half a million boots went slogging through Hell, And I was the kid with the drum! Say, don't you remember, you called me Al? It was Al all the time. Say, don't you remember? I'm your pal! Buddy, can you spare a dime? </li></ul><ul><li>This verse refers to America’s involvement with World War One, the enthusiasm of the American soldiers and the reality of life in the trenches. </li></ul><ul><li>The second half of the verse refers to the bonus marches and the fact that they were ‘overlooked’ by the government. </li></ul>
  5. 5. THERE IS A ‘LOST’ VERSE. AFTER WE HAVE LOOKED AT IT, TRY TO DECIDE WHY IT IS RARELY SUNG, OR EVEN REFERED TO.
  6. 6. <ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>In pairs write down what you think the verse refers to. </li></ul><ul><li>Write a short paragraph to explain whether you think this song is useful to historians studying the 1930’s. </li></ul>
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