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Song of the Day: September 23

from librettist Mark Campbell:

Being Alive
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

I had to include a Sondheim song this week. Had to. “Being Alive” is not necessarily my favorite song from the Sondheim canon—but I have to admit that in my long and varied romantic life, I’ve often asked the same questions about love that Robert asks in this song. (Now that I am married to my sweet husband Steve, these questions are still asked, but perhaps less emphatically.) The song is also fresh on my mind because of the recent death of Dean Jones, who played the original Robert on Broadway. Of course, much is made of the ingenuous twist in the lyric from a description (“Someone to hold me too close”) to a plea/command (“Somebody hold me too close”), but I think the power in this song is also in the tough verbs: “crowd,” “ruin,” “hurt,” “force.” And of course the final twist, “to help us survive/being alive.” This album was the first show album that I bought myself—and was my first experience with Sondheim’s music. I soon began to listen to Company religiously—over and over, as I would pretty much all of the musicals with music and lyrica by Sondheim. Funnily enough, I bought it as a birthday gift for my mother who had seen Elaine Stritch on TV and felt that she had found a kindred spirit in her.

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