Sunday, October 3, 2010

Three Perfect Songs

DAY 359:  Say what you will about Facebook - it's incredibly addictive and causes way too much oversharing (and I'm totally guilty on THAT count).  It has created an absolutely TERRIFIC film (RUN and see The Social Network if you haven't yet) and alerts me to wonderful YouTube clips that I've never seen before.  Over the past three days, I've seen three YouTube clips featuring three of my all-time favorite showtunes delivered with staggeringly beautiful honesty and technique by three outstanding performers.  I'm grateful for having these videos to share ... and here they are.

I've made no secret that I consider Stephen Sondheim to be the greatest Broadway composer-lyricist EVER.  There is one song of his, from the musical Follies, that remains my favorite Sondheim song of all time.  Here is a performance of "Losing My Mind," delivered with flawless control and understatement by the originator of the song, Dorothy Collins.  This is a textbook example of one of my strongest beliefs when it comes to acting ... "bigger" ISN'T "better."

"The sun comes up,
I think about you.
The coffee cup,
I think about you.
I want you so,
It's like I'm losing my mind.

The morning ends,
I think about you.
I talk to friends,
I think about you.
And do they know?
It's like I'm losing my mind.

All afternoon,
Doing every little chore,
The thought of you stays bright.
Sometimes I stand
In the middle of the floor,
Not going left,
Not going right.

I dim the lights
And think about you,
Spend sleepless nights
To think about you.
You said you loved me,
Or were you just being kind?
Or am I losing my mind?"
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Another one of my all-time favorite songs is from a Broadway flop. The musical Ballroom tells the story of a lonely widow and a postal carrier who find late-in-life love at a local dance hall.  The song "Fifty Percent" is delivered here with such grace and passion by its fabulous originator, Dorothy Loudon.

"I don't iron his shirts.
I don't sew on his buttons.
I don't know all the jokes he tells
Or the songs he hums.
Though I may hold him
All through the night,
He may not be there
When the morning comes

I don't pick out his ties,
Or expect his tomorrows,
But I feel when he's in my arms
He's where he wants to be.

We have no memories,
Bittersweet with time,
And I doubt if he'll spend
New Year's Eve with me.

I don't share his name.
I don't wear his ring.
There's no piece of paper
Saying that he's mine,
But he says he loves me,
And I believe it's true.
Doesn't that make someone
Belong to you.

So I don't share his name.
So I don't wear his ring.
So there's no piece of paper
Saying that he's mine.
So we have don't have the memories.
I have enough memories.
I've watched enough mornings.
I've cried enough evenings.
I've had enough birthdays
To know what I want.

Life is anyone's guess -
It's a constant surprise.
You don't plan to fall in love,
But when you fall you fall.

I'd rather have fifty percent of him
Or any percent of him
Than all of anybody else at all."
Lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman
Music by Billy Goldenberg

Finally ... my favorite living performer - the inimitable Audra McDonald.  There is NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE, who can match her.  She has perfect technique, a voice from the heavens, and acting talents that cannot be ignored.  I've seen her live in concert twice (once from the FRONT ROW) and both have been unforgettable experiences.  Pair Ms. McDonald with one of my favorite Gershwin standards, and it's nothing short of a religious experience.

"There's a saying old says that love is blind,
Still we're often told 'seek and ye shall find,'
So I'm going to seek a certain lad I've had in mind.

Looking everywhere, haven't found him yet.
He's the big affair I cannot forget.
Only man I ever think of with regret.
I'd like to add his initial to my monogram.
Tell me, where is the shepherd for this lost lamb?

There's a somebody I'm longing to see.
I hope that he turns out to be
Someone to watch over me.

I'm a little lamb who's lost in the wood.
I know I could always be good
To one who'll watch over me.

Although he may not be the man
Some girls think of as handsome,
To my heart he carries the key.

Won't you tell him please to put on some speed,
Follow my lead, oh how I need,
Someone to watch over me ..."
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin

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