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Seven Of My Favorite Show Tunes

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Liz has been an online writer for over nine years. Her articles often focus on music and culture of the 20th century.

Musicals Capture The Imagination

Musicals have long been a favorite of mine. There are a number of them I've seen, but certain songs stand out in my memory. Most are from shows that originated on Broadway; some evolved into movies while some began as movies.

Most of the musicals have at least one, often more songs that have very catchy tunes, and which you may catch yourself singing in odd moments.

Even the songs that are more mournful and poignant can be memorable, and for some of them, the message can hold true through the ages.

Oklahoma!

Oklahoma! Released as a movie in 1955, it was originally a stage play in 1943 by Rogers and Hammerstein. The most memorable song from this musical, for me, is “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin' “

There's a bright golden haze on the meadow
There's a bright golden haze on the meadow
The corn is as high as an elephant's eye
And it looks like it's climbing clear up to the sky
Oh, what a beautiful mornin'
Oh, what a beautiful day
I've got a beautiful feeling
Everything's going my way
All the cattle are standing like statues
All the cattle are standing like statues
They don't turn their heads as they see me ride by
But a little brown maverick is winking her eye
Oh, what a beautiful mornin'
I've got a beautiful feeling
Everything's going my way
All the sounds of the earth are like music
All the sounds of the earth are like music
The breeze is so busy, it don't miss a tree
And an old weeping willow is laughing at me
Oh, what a beautiful mornin'
Oh, what a beautiful day
I've got a beautiful feeling
Everything's going my way
Oh, what a beautiful day

Cats

Cats is a stage musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber, based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot. It first showed in 1981. In 1998 it was made into a direct-to-video movie release. My favorite song from this is “Memory .” However, it is one I simply cannot sing, because for some reason, it always has me in tears! I love it anyway.

Midnight
Not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight
The withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan


Memory all alone in the moonlight
I can smile happy your days (I can dream of the old days)
Life was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again
Every street lamp seems to beat
A fatalistic warning
Someone mutters and the street lamp gutters
And soon it will be morning


Daylight; I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn't give in
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin

Burnt out ends of smoky days
The still cold smell of morning
A street lamp dies, another night is over
Another day is dawning
Touch me, it is so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me,
You'll understand what happiness is
Look, a new day has begun

The second version, below, has printed lyrics, but you must overlook the many horrible misspellings!

Phantom Of The Opera

I absolutely loved Phantom of the Opera, and wish I could see it again, if only to figure out the mechanics of the disappearing act at the end. It opened in London in 1986, and on Broadway in 1988. It was released to film in 2004. The most haunting and beautiful song from this production is, in my opinion, “Music of the Night.”

Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation
Darkness wakes and stirs imagination
Silently, the senses abandon their defenses
Helpless to resist the notes I write
For I compose the music of the night

Slowly, gently, night unfurls its splendor
Grasp it, sense it, tremulous and tender
Hearing is believing, music is deceiving
Hard as lightening, soft as candlelight
Dare you trust the music of the night?

Close your eyes for your eyes will only tell the truth
And the truth isn't what you want to see
In the dark it is easy to pretend
That the truth is what it ought to be

Softly, deftly, music shall caress you
Hear it, feel it secretly possess you
Open up your mind, let your fantasies unwind
In this darkness which you know you cannot fight
The darkness of the music of the night

Close your eyes
Start a journey to a strange new world
Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before
Close your eyes and let music set you free
Only then can you belong to me.

Floating, falling, sweet intoxication
Touch me, trust me, savor each sensation
Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in
To the power of the music that I write
The power of the music of the night

You alone can make my song take flight
Help me make the music of the night

Les Miserables

It is important to note that Les Miserables was not about the French Revolution. That was 43 years earlier in a different century. The rebellion depicted in Les Mis was of very brief duration: it was put down within 24 hours. However, it made its mark on history. The stage play debuted in 1980 as a French language production. Although it was a success, it closed early because the booking contract expired. In 1985 it opened in London as an English language production, and arrived on Broadway in 1987. The most stirring song from this play is “Do You Hear the People Sing?”

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again

When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again

When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes

Will you give all you can give
So that our banner may advance
Some will fall and some will live
Will you stand up and take your chance?
The blood of the martyrs
Will water the meadows of France

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again

When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins is a very upbeat and high-energy production most of the way through. It opened on as a movie in August of 1964 (we're going back quite a few years, there!), after a nearly 20 year delay while Disney negotiated with the author of the eponymous book for the screen rights.

The most amazing and energetic song and dance routine is that of the chimney sweeps with “Step In Time”

Step in time, step in time
Come on my dear, step in time
Step in timeStep in time, step in time
Step in time, step in time
Never need a reason, never need a rhyme
Step in time, we step in time

Kick your knees up
Kick your knees up, step in time
Kick your knees up, step in time
Never need a reason, never need a rhyme
Kick your knees up, step in time

Round the chimney
Round the chimney, step in time
Round the chimney, step in time
Never need a reason, never need a rhyme
Round the chimney, step in time

Flap like a birdie
Flap like a birdie, step in time
Flap like a birdie, step in time
Never need a reason, never need a rhyme
Flap like a birdie, in time

Up on the railing
Up on the railing, step in time
Up on the railing, step in time
Never need a reason, never need a rhyme
Up on the railing step in time

Over the rooftops
Over the rooftops, step in time
Over the rooftops, step in time
Never need a reason, never need a rhyme
Step in time
Over the rooftops! Over the rooftops!

Link your elbows
Link your elbows, step in time
Link your elbows, step in time
Link your elbows, link your elbows, link your elbows

Step in time, step in time

Step in time, step in time
Never need a reason, never need a rhyme
Step in time, you step in time

As an interesting side note to this video, is the following one featuring a pair of professional choreographers analyzing the dance scene. You'll be amazed!

Bye Bye Birdie

As a stage play, Bye Bye Birdie opened in 1960, and was first adapted for film in 1963. The memorable song from this is one whose theme rings true for parents of any generation: “What's the Matter With Kids Today?”

This play was a favorite of high school drama teachers back in the day; it was even performed at my high school in San Francisco.

Kids!
I don't know what's wrong with these kids today!
Kids!
Who can understand anything they say?
Kids!
They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs!
Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy, loafers!
While we're on the subject:
Kids!
You can talk and talk till your face is blue!
Kids!
But they still just do what they want to do!
Why can't they be like we were
Perfect in every way?
What's the matter with kids today?

Kids!
I've tried to raise him the best I could
Kids! Kids!
Laughing, singing, dancing, grinning, morons!
And while we're on the subject!
Kids! They are just impossible to control!
Kids! With their awful clothes and their rock an' roll!
Why can't they dance like we did
What's wrong with Sammy Kaye?
What's the matter with kids today?

Breakfast At Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany's was supposed to be a stage play in 1966 but after tryouts, the director closed it down, and it never opened. It was adapted for film in 1961. It is ironic that the film version came before the attempt at a stage play. “Moon River” is a very melodic and poignant song that has stuck in my memory even as the details of the plot faded.

Moon river, wider than a mile
I'm crossing you in style some day
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you're goin', I'm goin' your way

Two drifters, off to see the world
There's such a lot of world to see
We're after the same rainbow's end, waitin' 'round the bend
My huckleberry friend, moon river, and me

© 2020 Liz Elias

Comments

Nell Rose from England on October 14, 2020:

Lol! I drive my hubby nuts with my singing!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 13, 2020:

Hi Nell!

Delighted you enjoyed this piece. It was fun to write. I sing some of the songs, but I tend to forget the words. LOL

Nell Rose from England on October 13, 2020:

Fabulous! Oh, you don't know how much I needed that! lol! Now my other half is yelling at me and says I sound like a cow in heat with my voice! Cheek! loved it! And good to see you!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on September 28, 2020:

Thank you, Audrey! I got to see Les Mis live with friends in San Francisco. It was a great show! I never saw the film version.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on September 27, 2020:

You've written a delightful article here. Directing musicals has been my bread and butter for 40 years. My favorite musical (I've seen it 6 times) is Les Miserables. I always enjoy watching the the live version. The film was mostly a disappointment.

Thanks, Liz.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on September 27, 2020:

@ Peggy: Thanks for reminding me of those! "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story is another one I liked, and although I never saw the stage play, but the movie version, I always thought "Do You Think You're Who They Say You Are?" from JCS was very catchy.

@ Lora: Oh, yes; "Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair" from South Pacific, as well as "Some Enchanted Evening." Music Man--never saw it, but recognize the tune, as well as "76 Trombones" from that same show. Never got to see Showboat, either; I'll have to look it up. Maybe I can find it on DVD on ebay.

@ Shauna: "Ya Got Trouble" is a good one--another that many are familiar with, even if they never saw the show. And also "Spoonful of Sugar" from Mary Poppins!

Thank you so much, everyone, for your delightful comments and added songs. I'm most pleased you enjoyed the article, and your input refreshed my memory on several other pieces. ;-)

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 27, 2020:

LIz, this is a delightfully nostalgic article. I enjoyed each and every song. I love anything from Mary Poppins. I have so many favorites, it'd be hard to choose.

Two of my favorite show tunes are "Ya Got Trouble" from "The Music Man" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy" from the movie/show of the same name. Jimmy Cagne was brilliant in the film. He's one of my favorite actors because he's more than just a bad guy, as he proved in "Yankee Doodle Dandy".

Excellent article! What a nice change from the doom and gloom that's all around us in these time.

Lora Hollings on September 26, 2020:

I love the songs from these musicals. You have composed a list of some really great tunes. I also love many of the songs from "Showboat," "Gigi," "South Pacific," and "The Music Man." Excellent article that I truly enjoyed! Thank you.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 26, 2020:

I love these musicals. West Side Story, and The Sound of Music are also favorites of mine. Thanks for writing this. It brought back some happy memories of seeing Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, and Jesus Christ Superstar in person.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on September 26, 2020:

Pamela: Thanks very much. I'm glad you enjoyed these. Do look up Phantom; it is now available on DVD. I think you'll love it.

Abby: Oh, yes, Master of the House was funny. Isn't it odd, how one particular song from any given show will stick in our minds? Thanks for stopping by and adding your favorite.

Abby Slutsky from America on September 26, 2020:

This was a fun read. I am familiar with most of these. However, my favorite from Les Mis is the ever-humorous Master of the House. However, all your selections were wonderful, and it was enjoyable to hear them.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 26, 2020:

This is a great selection of musicals. The show tunes are very memorable. The only musical I haven't seen is Phantom of the Opera. I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful article. It brought back great memories.