Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Lyrics of the Week

Running through my head right now is a snatch of song that barely has a tune at all: the introductory verse to the song "Who Knows?" from the musical I Can Get it For You Wholesale. The song, by Harold Rome, uses the unusual technique of prefacing a very short, simple refrain with a long, elaborate piece of speech-song, like an operatic recitative. And it's one of my favorite lyrics by the underrated Rome, with every line perfectly fitted to the character, the time and place she lives in, and her hopes/dreams/aspirations. Except for the Clifford Odets reference, it still holds up:

New York is a wonderful town, a very stimulating place to be.
It's full of galleries and exhibitions, most are absolutely free.
And concerts like at Lewisohn Stadium, plus at Carnegie Hall;
We sit way up top, but it's wonderful acoustics -- that's where it sounds best of all.
Art lectures at the Metropolitan (I attended ancient Greece the other day),
The modern dance and ballet at the Y.M. and W.H.A.
And legitimate plays on Broadway -- don't you think Odets is great?
Not downstairs of course; we get last-minute balcony down at Gray's cut-rate.
What better way can a single girl with leisure spare time find
Than to go around, broaden out her background, also improve her mind?
Plus it gives more chances for meeting up with people, wouldn't you say?
Such as certain members of the opposite sex she hopes to get involved with some day.
And who can tell, who knows when they might come one's way?

1 comment:

What I Didn't Say... said...

Hi! I'm glad to find a fan of this song...I'm working on it for my musical theatre class. I am researching the lyrics and I'm wondering about "Gray's Cut Rate". I thought it might be some kind of early TKTS booth, but the only reference I could find online was a drug store in Cleveland. Maybe they had them in the Northeast and maybe they sold last minute tickets to shows. Just wondering if you knew anymore about this old reference!