Sunday, January 11, 2009

Once Upon A Time

A can't-lose proposition in 1962 Broadway terms: a musical, with music and lyrics by the team of Adams/Strouse - they'd already given the world Bye-Bye, Birdie and would later create Annie - and book by Mel Brooks and starring Ray Bolger. Title: All American

It was a disaster, running for only 80 performances. (Sondheim broke that record, with Anyone Can Whistle lasting only 9 performances. Carrie, the Musical is my all-time flop champion, closing after 5 shows...although it really should have closed at intermission of its first performance...but I digress...)

Surviving All American are a couple lovely tunes, including one that has unexpectedly become, ahem, my signature song. It's a sad, wistful song of longing and regret - lost love and missed chances for romance and such. This song is "Once Upon A Time".

I first heard this song on Mandy Patinkin's eponymous album, sung tenderly and without pretense. (Shocking for Mandy...) Again, I degress...

I liked the song. It stayed with me. The tune is very straight-forward and textbook in form (AABA). It stayed with me because it is lovely. Then I discovered that the most wonderful piano player in my life - Tom at Good Friends - knew the tune...and we started doing this song most Sundays at their sing-a-long.

Move forward a couple years, and it had become part of our standard repertoire. A handsome man with whom I was smitten commented on how me adored the song, but found the lyrics to be too painful for the loveliness of the tune.

I like a challenge.

So, to please this handsome man, with whom I had not a snowball's chance in Hell, I went home that night and wrote a new set of lyrics.

More reassuring, winsome and hopeful. I like them quite a bit. They are all I sing now. People who know the song from its origins will ask me where this alternate set of lyrics came from and I usually lie and say some recording somewhere.

I wrote them.

Now, I had been thinking about this for a while and thought it would be great to post to Music Monday as spearheaded by the lovely Soccer Mom in Denial. I went in search of a video to post for all to hear - and found my way to Bobby Darrin's heart-wrenching rendition.

Knowing a little bit about his life and troubled love for Sandra Dee, it makes the performance even more moving. Here is that video:

The handsome man liked the new lyrics, but I never had the heart to tell him that I wrote them for him.

No. That's not quite accurate.

He wasn't worth telling. Sure, I wrote them with him in mind. But these were for me.

So, here's my version. Sorry, no recording. You'll have to make a trip to New Orleans and stay over some Sunday - make sure that your flight is not too early on Monday morning. That won't be pretty after the time we have the evening before. And you will have heard this:

Once upon a time,
It seemed the world was turning grey.
Love was what I hoped for,
But never what would be.
And yet my once upon a times
Always set me free

Once upon a time,
A man with stardust in his eyes
Showed there is hope
And also sweet romance...
And now my once upon a time
Is my second chance.

Can this be?
Does it all seem real?
Aren't we always taught
That we should guard the way we feel?
Yet someday soon, I hope I can reveal...
My heart is yours.
Now upon this time,
The world is sweeter than we dreamed.
Everything we have
Is better than before.
And now my once upon a time...
Is my forever more.

3 comment(s):

painted maypole

i'd love to hear you sing!

soccer mom in denial

Oh sniff! You are making me weepy at my desk.

Thanks for sharing the lyrics. They are lovely.

Now I have to find a kleenex....

Flower Child

definitely worth a long weekend trip to New Orleans just to hear it live!

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