It is such an odd word to use in that song.
Couldn't the lyric be 'Isn't it Weird?'
But the composer uses the word 'Queer'
"Losing my timing this late and shaving my beard" doesn't pack the same punch.
Heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh. She said "queer".
Again the lyric should be changed to
'Isn't it Queer'
'Isn't it Weird'
Didn't Streisand make him rewrite the lyrics before she'd agree to record the song?
Wow, this thread title totally encapsulates the judge panel and host for this season of American Idol.
They know their target audience.
those words had different meanings back then
I never much cared for that song until, I heard Sarah Vaughn sing it.
[quote]those words had different meanings back then
The song was written in 1973, not 1873.
No, OP and R3, it should not be "weird".
First of all, "queer" in it's original meaning is precisely what the lyricist intended, as in "something strange, odd, unexpected". While "weird" may have developed some similarities of meaning, it more correctly implies the supernatural, unearthly, like the witches in Macbeth, which is not the intent of the lyrics.
Secondly, it doesn't rhyme correctly with fear, dear, and career. It is at best a clumsy and imperfect rhyme, unacceptable in the best Broadway lyrics.
And by the way, OP, it is the lyricist, not the composer, who writes the words. In this case, both roles were filled by Stephen Sondheim, one of the true Broadway greats. But it is Sondheim the lyricist who wrote the lyrics, not Sondheim the composer.
And, R4, Streisand didn't ask for a change of lyric. In her performances of the song, you can VERY clearly hear her articulate the word "queer." Even Streisand wouldn't dared to have asked Sondheim for a re-write. She also has enough taste to know that replacing it with "weird" would change the meaning of the lyric and sound entirely wrong.
Don't you love farce?
My fault, I fear.
I thought that you'd want what I want -
Sorry, my dear.
Isn't it rich?
Isn't it queer?
Losing my timing this late
In my career?
FWIW, "gay" still means "happy", you know, it just also means other things as well. Words do have more than one meaning, you know.
"Stupid" and "tasteless" both pretty much have one meaning, though.
Wow, r10 was like a tornado.
R4 STreisand didn't ask him to rewrite the lyrics, she asked for MORE lyrics....she wanted to repeat the bridge so he wrote lyrics to accomodate that.
What a surprise,
Who could foresee?
I'd come to feel about you
What you felt about me?
Why only now when I see
That you've drifted away?
What a surprise...
What a cliche...
R10, you are partially incorrect.
Sondheim DID rewrite the song for Streisand, adding an entire new verse, though he did not alter the "queer" line OP cites as being unusual.
"In 1985, Sondheim added a verse for Barbra Streisand to use in her concert performances. and recording, which was featured on The Broadway Album. In 1986, her version became a Number 25 Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary hit."
[quote]Even Streisand wouldn't dared to have asked Sondheim for a re-write.
Sondheim rewrote the ENTIRE lyrics for "Putting It Together" for Barbra Streisand's Broadway Album. This is the version which features David Geffen and Sidney Pollack. Sondheim also rewrote the lyrics for "I'm Still Here" for Streisand's 1994 concert tour. Andrew Lloyd Webber also rewrote the lyrics for "As If We Never Said Goodbye" for her 1994 tour.
Did the public know who Stephen Sondheim was before Streisand's Broadway Album was released and went to #1? I had heard of him before The Broadway Album, but was not very familiar with his music. I remember being blown away when I heard his songs on that record. I think that album introduced his music to a whole new generation.
R15. Are you kidding me ????!!?!!?
Did the rewrite get rid of "queer"?
I actually sort of like the "new" bridge. He also wrote a new version of "I'm Still Here" for Babs to sing that I'm not so fond of. And of course, his rewrite of "Everything's Coming Up Roses" for Merman to sing as a campaign song for John Lindsay is quite delightful (link below.)
Though if we're really being BMI nerds here, we should point out that he does break pattern by using "ere" rhymes in two consecutive verses. He really should have either used kept the "ere" consistent throughout the song or should have used 4 different rhymes. As it stands,
Verse 1: pair/midair
Verse 2: approve/move
Verse 3: fear/dear
Verse 4: queer/career
Sloppy, Mr. S. Sloppy.
The only incorrect assumption in r10's post is that Op and r3 are different posters.
She demanded that her longtime fangurls Alan Bergman & Marilyn Bergman change the lyrics to THE WAY WE WERE, which originally started out with Daydreams, instead of Memories. When they were featured on that Sunday morning interview show on CBS a few years ago, she actually said "that was the song that put them on the map, and I guess so was I."
R20, I hope that story isn't true, because "daydreams" is very difficult to sing because of the double "d" sounds. It really kills the flow of the song. I cannot believe that anyone but a baby lyricist would make such a choice.
Streisand said she wanted to repeat the bridge, but as an actress, she didn't want to repeat the same lyrics, so she had Sondheim write a new bridge. An actress doesn't repeat the same lines in a play.
Streisand also thought the song was more powerful and ironic when it ended on the lyric, "Where are the clowns? Don't bother they're here," and had Sondheim rearrange the song so it ended on that line. Usually the song ends on the lyric "Well, maybe next year."
I like Streisand's ending better.
Hey, Blanche's brother is the only guy I've met who knows all the words to Send In The Clowns.
Make of that what you will.
The word used is irrelevent and most certainly IMHO was not meant to be used as a gay statement and it pisses me off that people pick up on this FFS there are more important issues.
Sondheim was aware of this
The best performance I seen of this was Dame Judi Dench around 15 years ago in London - where she more or less spoke the the song - wonderful
Carol Burnett sang the song FABULOUSLY on her show!
[quote]Did the public know who Stephen Sondheim was before Streisand's Broadway Album was released and went to #1?
Only a handful of people outside of NYC knew who Sondheim was before Streisand's album? That's a fact! Do you think someone in Georgia or Wyoming knew who he was? Not likely. They might have heard some of his more famous songs, but they had no idea that Sondheim wrote them. And you never had Sondheim tributes on TV or on Broadway before The Broadway Album came out.
Think how many people had the soundtrack albums for West Side Story and Gypsy, at the very least. Or saw the movies. They all read the credits on the album sleeve or up on the screen, three feet high.
I heard Nathan Lane sings it like this:
Isn't it rich, isn't it queer
Sticking my dildo this far up in my rear
What R28 said. I used to play Jets v. Sharks on the playground in 1963 in New Jersey. His name was only as far away as the album cover.
I remember hearing "Some People" as a teen; "Everything's Coming Up Roses" and "Together, Wherever We Go" are pop classics.
[quote]An actress doesn't repeat the same lines in a play.
She evidently hasn't had to suffer through KINKY BOOTS.
Judy Collins sings the best version of this song.
Why couldn't OP just have written, "Let's talk about 'Send in the Clowns'" for his title? Why did he have to write such an inane question?
Carol Burnett really shouldn't attempt singing.
I always thought it was "don't you love farts?". Isn't it?
RE 32 - Yes, in her lovely, off key, fashion
Wow. R15 deserves some kind of prize.
I prefer the Streisand Send in the Clowns - the ending and the added verse are excellent.
Sondheim doesn't enjoy doing I'm Still Here rewrites, though.
Poor Sondheim, r38, that must be TORTURE for him. Bwahahaha!
I wonder if OP has have heard Sondheim's "You Could Drive A Person Crazy". What would he think of the line that goes:
" I could understand a person, if it's not a person's bag.
I could understand a person, if a person was a fag."
Check out the original cast album of "Company". .. And by the way: the word "queer" is still in every day use in England, meaning "strange" or "ironic".
Typo: meant to say, "has ever heard"
[quote]I never much cared for that song until, I heard Sarah Vaughn sing it.
Grace Jones did a great version as well.
The ignorance shown by some on this thread is just sad.
"A Little Night Music" is not set in modern day America, it's set in Sweden in the year 1900. An English speaker would have used the word exactly as Sondhiem wrote it.
Furthermore: the word "queer" still means (among other things):
"Deviating from the expected or normal; strange"
"Odd or unconventional, as in behavior; eccentric. "
"Of a questionable nature or character; suspicious."
As for Sondhiem: songs from "West Side Story" and "Gypsy" were HUGE hits in the very late 50s and early '60s. And the film version o "WSS" cleaned up at the Oscars.
People certainly knew who he was.
Oh my God!
When I saw that link I did not know what to expect. Maybe a disco version? Ugh...the bad taste of someone posting Cher singing that particular song....
Instead it is STUNNING.
Not only her interpretation... but the staging, the set, her natural make-up, hair and simple clothing.
Thanks for posting it.
Impressed by the Cher version, even though I hate the song.
Queer is a fine word. It actually fits most of he losers on DL.
OP, are you the same person wondering why Dorothy would miss Scarecrow most? Because both questions would seem to be a sign of a particular kind of arrested development.
OP's offer to Stephen Sondheim of a masterclass in lyric writing is pretty much Lou Grant's definition of "spunk".
R27 = George W. Bush.
Hey, OP: What do you think of the song from Carousel, titled: "You're A Queer One, Julie Jordan"? Perhaps we should bring Oscar Hammerstein back from the dead so he can change that one for you, too. .. Also, Cher's version of "Send In The Clowns" is really sucky and out of tune.
I feel pretty,
Oh, so pretty,
I feel pretty, and witty and straight,
And I pity
Any girl who isn't in my state.
She demanded that her longtime fangurls Alan Bergman & Marilyn Bergman change the lyrics to THE WAY WE WERE, which originally started out with Daydreams, instead of Memories.
That's interesting, because it has always bothered the shit out of me that "memories" is sung (twice) as a two-syllable word in that song: "mem-reees." I think it sounds really stupid, so if they were going to make the change, they should have figured out a way to do it without forcing a three-syllable word into two.
R53, at least Doris Finsecker sings the word correctly in her "Fame" version...
R40, that line is now "if it's not a person's bag/if a person was a drag" or "if he said to go away/if he happened to be gay" - it reflects how casual homophobia used to be the norm. Though it would be appropriate to keep in the show (well, productions set in the 70s) Sondheim changed it to move with the times.
[quote]Usually the song ends on the lyric "Well, maybe next year."
It was written to be sung by the character Desiree who is a professional actress living on the road year after year, from one season to the next. This year her real life is a romantic farce to match the silly drawing room comedy she's trouping in. Maybe next year she'll get a better "role" to play in real life. I might be wrong but I think that's where Sondheim was going with that line.
In an interview Sonheim said that the actress who originally played the role had a good voice, but not an outstanding voice. Her purposefully ended each line with a consonant do the actress wouldn't have to hold the note for very long. I don't know the difference between the original and Streisand versions, but I wonder if he threw in some lines that ended in vowels so she could hold the notes.
You are right R55!! Dorothy Louden sings: bag/drag and Barbara Cook sings: go away/gay. Indeed, signs of the times. Thanks for pointing that out!
[quote]The ignorance shown by some on this thread is just sad.
R10 here, and sorry to all for my c*nty original response, regardless of how correct it might have been. I was in a cranky mood, and this song has a special place in my life, which I'll explain shortly.
Many pointed out that Streisand did get additional lyrics out of Sondheim, and I knew that, but had forgotten. However, I do stand by my original statement that even she wouldn't have asked for re-writes, at least to the extent of suggesting to one of the greatest lyricists in history that he change a word that she didn't like.
I once witnessed a rather famous Broadway actress do just this to a lyricist who was writing a musical with Charles Strouse of "Annie" fame. I can't remember the lyricist's name, and he was nowhere near a Sondheim, but he was more than a little insulted by her suggestion.
Anyway, since the thread has attracted so many theatre types, they should enjoy this little story about "Clowns". I used to work a lot in theatre, mostly composing incidental scores to non-musicals. I had the good fortune about 35 years ago of writing three such little scores for plays that starred Glynis Johns. Johns was the original Desiree Armfeldt in "A Little Night Music, (thanks R45 for posting, and R57, I remember that interview with Sondheim: it was indeed Glynis' lack of breath control that influenced many of the lyric choices in the song.) She was a bit of a pill to most of the cast and crew, but for some reason, she liked me, and I was young and star-struck, so we hung out together quite a bit. I have a souvenir, one of the most prized possessions in my memory box. It is a noisy little cassette tape recording of "Send In the Clowns", with Glynis, just a little tipsy, singing, and me accompanying at the piano. Isn't it rich, indeed.
R60 I watched her series, "Glynis," when I was a kid, the entire half-season it was on. I don't know why, but even as a little boy, I was fascinated by her.
I've always been annoyed at him rhyming "flat" with "cat" not once but twice- first in the title song from Do I Hear a Waltz? and then in "Broadway Baby" in Follies. Americans have never used the word "flat" for an apartment, that was Sondheim being lazy and too much an Anglophile.
The raisins/liaisons rhyme bugs me, even when it's played for laughs.
Said/Head/Fled being rhymed by Alan Jay Lerner in Carmelina is also annoying,
Flat was used for apartment in the Northeast, at least when I was growing up.
Glynis was apparently more than a pill. Her dressers never stayed for long. A friend of mine got the job and stayed for the run of the show. She was legally deaf and just turned her hearing aid off.
I looked up the lyrics but can't figure out what this song is about. Circus performers? Trapeze?
R64 Not anywhere I've lived in the Northeast (NY, NJ, PA, DC). Or did you mean the Northeast of London?
r18 - I'm not a musician or composer so I can't really use the correct nomenclature. That said, there is an interlude? between Verse 3 and Verse 4. Verse 4 is in a sense a repeat of Verse 3 so it's not sloppy. I believe that construction has been used many times.
Will someone who knows something about music please chime in and either correct me or explain it correctly?
r67 - Connecticut. It was used fairly often in the classifieds, IIRC. Often, it was in reference to one of the floors of a multi-family house.
Like those 3-deckahs in Boston?
[quote] However, I do stand by my original statement that even she wouldn't have asked for re-writes, at least to the extent of suggesting to one of the greatest lyricists in history that he change a word that she didn't like.
You're not paying attention. Sondheim rewrote all the lyrics for "Putting It Together" and most of "I'm Still Here" for Streisand, so why wouldn't he change "Send in the Clowns" too?
Discussion has gotten a little off-base for your question, OP.
Think of a Broadway lyricist whose job is to illuminate a character through the use of their word choices.
That character is an older actress and therefore droll words with an arch delivery is suitable.
So given that, do you really think the word queer has the same meaning as weird for that kind of character set in that time period?
If so, then you're hopeless
r72, I don't suppose you'd attempt to answer r66's question...
You're sig says you're kind of an ass, but you seem knowledgeable.
During the vaudeville days of theater, when one act was failing to impress an audience, a decision would be made to pull those performers off stage earlier than normal and replace them with an act that could connect immediately, hence a backstage call to: "Send in the clowns!"
The actress is using that motif to comment on a dying relationship.
[quote]Americans have never used the word "flat" for an apartment, that was Sondheim being lazy and too much an Anglophile.
It was used in New York. People referred to "cold-water flats" and such in old movies. I don't know that people still use it today, though.
There is a kind of apartment in NY called a railroad flat, actually, where you walk through one room to get to the next, then the next, then the next, with no hallway. They have the tub in the kitchen, as it's the only place with plumbing.
A kiss may be grand, but it won't pay the rental on your humble flat, or help you at the Automat.
R71, you're so correct, I'm not paying attention, or at least, not explaining myself clearly, and I apologize.
I'm trying to make a distinction between a complete or significant re-write, and/or the addition of new lyrics provided for a legendary performer by a legendary lyricist, which seems entirely plausible and valid, vs replacing ONE word because said performer thinks they have a better choice of word than said lyricist. THAT seems highly unlikely between the likes of Streisand and Sondheim.
In other words, this conversation makes sense to me:
Babs: "Stephen, darling, would you write me a special verse for your wonderful song? SS: "It would be an honor, dear."
Babs: "I don't like the word 'queer'. Use 'weird' instead.
SS: "How about YOU sing, and I write, you bitch."
I do hope I've explained myself more clearly this time. I'm embarrassed by my lack of clarity in my previous posts.
And yes, I'm a weird queer bitch. But I try to be nice, I really do. I'm just too bitchy by nature. But this thread has sure attracted some interesting comments, and I'm enjoying it. Please, do carry on....
Yes, there is the term "railroad flat" but Americans simply would never say something like "Would you like to come up to see my flat?" They never would use the term "flat" in casual conversation unless they were an Anglophile or affected.
[quote]Americans have never used the word "flat" for an apartment, that was Sondheim being lazy and too much an Anglophile.
A kiss on the hand may be quite Continental
But diamonds are a girl's best friend.
A kiss may be grand but it won't pay the rental
On your humble flat,
Or help you at the Automat . . .
Oops, sorry, Jule - didn't see your reply at R77 - I guess a great song deserves an encore.
Some background on the rewrites Sondheim made to his songs for The Broadway Album is on this Streisand site.
Wrong again, r78. In "Putting It Together", Kathie Lee had a problem singing "Wait a Goddamn minute" in "Could I Leave You?" and asked Mr. S for a rewrite because she felt uncomfortable taking the Lord's name in vain. He changed it to "Wait a fucking minute", which she was fine with since it wasn't blasphemous.
It's not as clear cut as you seem to want to make it. Musical theatre is collaboration, and part of why Sondheim has had such a long career with so many people is that as great as he is, he's also a great collaborator.
Dear R15 (and all your other Rs) -
Just coincidentally, I'm reading the book about the fatal 1973 fire at New Orleans gay bar UpStairs, "Let the Faggots Burn: The UpStairs Lounge Fire."
By way of centering readers with a picture of what was going on in the world at large in 1973, author Johnny Townsend mentions that [bold]Stephen Sondheim had appeared on the cover of the April 23 issue of Newsweek[/bold].
Which leads me to believe more than a few people outside of NY had heard of Stephen Sondheim prior to Barbra's 1985 Broadway album.