Library of Congress adds Rudy Vallee to archives

Rudy Vallee's rendition of "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" is one of only a few hundred songs to enter the National Recording Registry.

On Tuesday The Library of Congress announced 25 new pieces of media to enter the Registry. Among song's like Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah," Isaac Haye's album "Shaft" and Credence Clearwater Revival's protest song "Fortunate Son" is Mainer Rudy Vallee's recording of "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime."

The song was written by Jay Gorney and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg. Gorney says it was inspired by a Yiddish lullaby.

"Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" came out in 1932 in the midst of the Great Depression. Both Vallee's version and the Bing Crosby single are entering the Registry.

From the Library of Congress' media release:

"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" (singles)—Bing Crosby; Rudy Vallee (both 1932)
Composed by Jay Gorney and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" was the show-stopping number of the 1932, Depression-era musical "American Revue." The minor-key melody, according to Gorney, was inspired by a Yiddish lullaby. The song's lyrics underscored the irony of the Depression-era American working class people who had once built railroads and fought wars only to find themselves now waiting in bread lines. With its bittersweet melody and bold, unsentimental lyrics, this arresting anthem to America's "forgotten man" became a major hit. Recordings by Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee—both issued the same year—were best-sellers and emphasized the song's strengths in different ways. Crosby's nuanced baritone played to the song's drama; his use of rubato during the verse was especially effective. On the other hand, Vallee's light tenor is more emotionally removed and allows the song to stand more on its own merits

More Info:: View the full Library of Congress news release

More information:: Rudy Vallee's Website

The Maine based - and, sadly, now mostly defunct - band Over A Cardboard Sea revisited the song in the late '00s. Over A Cardboard Sea was a wacky, retro, wild project. Fronted by Tim Findlen, the group dressed in period garb, used corny jokes and goofy sound effects and generally just had a blast bringing back Vaudeville, if only for a short time.

Over A Cardboard Sea's version of "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" starts simply enough, but builds layers of horns, guitar, weeping musical saws, piano, violin and Findlen's monstrous holler to an incredible crescendo.

Vallee's version is crushed and defeated... Over A Cardboard Sea is wildly desperate. It's an on-elbows-and-knees grovel. It bowls me over every time.

Listen to Over A Cardboard Sea's Version: On the Eternal Otter Records website

Over a Cardboard Sea has more or less disbanded as members have traveled to other locations. You can still like them on Facebook, though, or check out their page on Eternal Otter Records website.


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