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Send In The Clowns 'Isn't it Queer?'

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'


by Anonymousreply 8405/28/2013

"Losing my timing this late and shaving my beard" doesn't pack the same punch.

by Anonymousreply 105/26/2013

Heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh. She said "queer".

by Anonymousreply 205/26/2013

Again the lyric should be changed to

'Isn't it Queer'


'Isn't it Weird'

by Anonymousreply 305/26/2013

Didn't Streisand make him rewrite the lyrics before she'd agree to record the song?

by Anonymousreply 405/26/2013

Wow, this thread title totally encapsulates the judge panel and host for this season of American Idol.

by Anonymousreply 505/26/2013

They know their target audience.

by Anonymousreply 605/26/2013



those words had different meanings back then

by Anonymousreply 705/26/2013

I never much cared for that song until, I heard Sarah Vaughn sing it.

by Anonymousreply 805/26/2013

[quote]those words had different meanings back then

The song was written in 1973, not 1873.

by Anonymousreply 905/26/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 1005/26/2013

Wow, r10 was like a tornado.

by Anonymousreply 1105/26/2013

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...

by Anonymousreply 1205/26/2013

Thankyou R10.

by Anonymousreply 1305/26/2013

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.

Wiki: "In 1985, Sondheim added a verse for Barbra Streisand to use in her concert performances.[13] and recording, which was featured on The Broadway Album. In 1986, her version became a Number 25 Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary hit.[14]"

by Anonymousreply 1405/26/2013

[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.

by Anonymousreply 1505/26/2013

R15. Are you kidding me ????!!?!!?

by Anonymousreply 1605/26/2013

Did the rewrite get rid of "queer"?

by Anonymousreply 1705/26/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 1805/26/2013

The only incorrect assumption in r10's post is that Op and r3 are different posters.

by Anonymousreply 1905/26/2013

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."

by Anonymousreply 2005/26/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 2105/26/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 2205/26/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 2305/26/2013

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

by Anonymousreply 2405/26/2013

Carol Burnett sang the song FABULOUSLY on her show!

by Anonymousreply 2505/26/2013

[quote]Did the public know who Stephen Sondheim was before Streisand's Broadway Album was released and went to #1?

by Anonymousreply 2605/26/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 2705/26/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 2805/26/2013

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

by Anonymousreply 2905/26/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 3005/26/2013

[quote]An actress doesn't repeat the same lines in a play.

She evidently hasn't had to suffer through KINKY BOOTS.

by Anonymousreply 3105/26/2013

Judy Collins sings the best version of this song.

by Anonymousreply 3205/26/2013

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?

by Anonymousreply 3305/26/2013

Carol Burnett really shouldn't attempt singing.

by Anonymousreply 3405/27/2013

I always thought it was "don't you love farts?". Isn't it?

by Anonymousreply 3505/27/2013

RE 32 - Yes, in her lovely, off key, fashion

by Anonymousreply 3605/27/2013

Wow. R15 deserves some kind of prize.

by Anonymousreply 3705/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 3805/27/2013

Poor Sondheim, r38, that must be TORTURE for him. Bwahahaha!

by Anonymousreply 3905/27/2013

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".

by Anonymousreply 4005/27/2013

Typo: meant to say, "has ever heard"

by Anonymousreply 4105/27/2013

[quote]I never much cared for that song until, I heard Sarah Vaughn sing it.

Grace Jones did a great version as well.

by Anonymousreply 4205/27/2013

Cher's incomparable version

by Anonymousreply 4305/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 4405/27/2013

My favorite, by Glynis Johns and Len Cariou:

by Anonymousreply 4505/27/2013

Re: Cher

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.

by Anonymousreply 4605/27/2013

Impressed by the Cher version, even though I hate the song.

by Anonymousreply 4705/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 4905/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 5005/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 5105/27/2013

I feel pretty,

Oh, so pretty,

I feel pretty, and witty and straight,

And I pity

Any girl who isn't in my state.

by Anonymousreply 5205/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 5305/27/2013

R53, at least Doris Finsecker sings the word correctly in her "Fame" version...

by Anonymousreply 5405/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 5505/27/2013

[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.

by Anonymousreply 5605/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 5705/27/2013

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!

by Anonymousreply 5805/27/2013

[quote]The ignorance shown by some on this thread is just sad.


by Anonymousreply 5905/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 6005/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 6105/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 6205/27/2013

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,

by Anonymousreply 6305/27/2013

Flat was used for apartment in the Northeast, at least when I was growing up.

by Anonymousreply 6405/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 6505/27/2013

I looked up the lyrics but can't figure out what this song is about. Circus performers? Trapeze?

by Anonymousreply 6605/27/2013

R64 Not anywhere I've lived in the Northeast (NY, NJ, PA, DC). Or did you mean the Northeast of London?

by Anonymousreply 6705/27/2013

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?

by Anonymousreply 6805/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 6905/27/2013

Like those 3-deckahs in Boston?

by Anonymousreply 7005/27/2013

[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?

by Anonymousreply 7105/27/2013

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?

by Anonymousreply 7205/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 7305/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 7405/27/2013

[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.

by Anonymousreply 7505/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 7605/27/2013

A kiss may be grand, but it won't pay the rental on your humble flat, or help you at the Automat.

by Anonymousreply 7705/27/2013

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." but NOT 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....

by Anonymousreply 7805/27/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 7905/28/2013

[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 . . .

by Anonymousreply 8005/28/2013

Oops, sorry, Jule - didn't see your reply at R77 - I guess a great song deserves an encore.

by Anonymousreply 8105/28/2013

Some background on the rewrites Sondheim made to his songs for The Broadway Album is on this Streisand site.

by Anonymousreply 8205/28/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 8305/28/2013

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.

by Anonymousreply 8405/28/2013
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