Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Being Alive - A Song for Valentine's

Stephen Sondheim doesn’t immediately spring to mind as the source of a romantic ballad caroling the joys of love appropriate to Valentine’s Day – if you were to look to Broadway that would be Rogers and Hart, the more saccharine Rogers and Hammerstein or the most saccharine Andrew Lloyd Webber. But my friend David sent me the link to a YouTube video of “Being Alive” from the current Broadway revival of Company and that got me thinking. The sentiments and tone of that brilliant eleven o’clock number strike me as both appropriate and romantic.

Though that Raul Esparza version is searing I prefer this John Barrowman clip for its clarity (despite the filmer’s cough) – you can hear almost all the lyrics.

I saw Company three times when the National Touring production played the Royal Alex back in 1972. Offended subscribers walked out during performances – the same people who had sat tittering through the frontal nudity of Hair couldn’t take the fully-clothed Sondheim-Furth attack on their own ‘70s sexuality. Anne Mervish told me that a number of morally upright Torontonians were canceling their subscriptions to protest the filth upon the wicked stage of Ed’s venerable old theatre. Me? I wanted to see it a 4th time.

What’s so romantic about this particularly number? Listen closely to the lyrics – not just Bobby’s but the remarks of the people around him – his partnered friends. Some are in new relationships, some in old, some in stable ones, some in rocky ones but each one of them has found love and more important company in their relationship.

Bobby sings:
Someone to hold you too close
Someone to hurt you too deep
Someone to sit in your chair
And ruin your sleep
And make you aware of being alive.

Harry says:
You have so many reasons for not being with someone but Robert you haven’t got one good reason for being alone.

And Paul adds:
Don’t afraid that it won’t be perfect, the only thing to be afraid of really is that it won’t be.

No, it doesn’t celebrate the first flush of young love or the glow of romantic love – but it does celebrate the love between people who know that relationships are more than roses, candy and candlelight.

And to my Valentine, thank you for making me aware.

1 comment:

laurent Beaulieu said...

Will, that is so beautiful and you write so well.
Better than any flowers or chocolates.

Love you my valentine,