November 2, 2011

Hillary's Still Here

The Story Behind The Song

This is a parody of the great Sondheim standard I'm Still Here, which was introduced in the vastly underappreciated 1971 musical Follies. The song has since become an anthem of sorts for women of a certain age who've been around the block more than a few times, e.g., Shirley MacLaine, Streisand, etc. OK, it's an anthem of sorts for nutty women of a certain age who've been around the block more than a few times. Why shouldn't Hillary have a shot at it?

I originally wrote this parody about six or seven years ago (I've since updated the lyrics to reflect later events). I snail-mailed a copy to Frank Rich (then still mostly a thoughtful theater critic) who responded with a really nice note telling me that he enjoyed it so much that he sent it off to Steve (Mr. Sondheim to you). A few weeks later, I got a personal note from Steve who claimed to be "very impressed" by my effort, further complimenting me for my "funny and fresh" rhymes, and for my "rhythmic sense" which, in Steve's opinion, "makes the whole thing very sharp". Let me repeat that: Stephen Sondheim sent me a personal note, pecked out on His own typewriter and signed in His own handwriting, lavishly praising my parody of a song that He Himself had written. (At this point you may, like me, choose to go back and re-read the previous two sentences.) A correspondence of sorts ensued, in the course of which Steve and I discussed, among other things, why Larry Hart is overrated as a lyricist and why I thought that Steve would really enjoy my parody show Holiday For Heretics, a CD of which I mailed to him under separate cover (see link to the upper right). A few days later, a bit of a chill seemed to creep into our relationship, and like Victor Laszlo seeking to chat with Senor Ugarte, I began to find the conversation a trifle one-sided. The smoke signals from Camp Steve were unmistakable: Don't call us, we'll call you.

In the event of a major natural disaster, after making sure that my family is OK, the first thing I'd run back into the house to save are the letters from Steve. I can only hope he feels the same way about mine.)

This recording features the sensational Ivy Austin on vocals, accompanied by Broadway legend Paul Trueblood on piano.