Saturday, April 23, 2011

Barbra Streisand: Memory

Memory is a show tune from Cats, a 1981 Broadway musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on T.S. Eliot's Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The song itself is based on Eliot's poem, "Rhapsody on a Windy Night."

The musical ran for twenty-one years in London's West End and eighteen in New York's Broadway. It was the longest running musical on Broadway until another Andrew Lloyd Webber production, The Phantom of the Opera, overtook it in 2006.

The song, Memory, is performed by Grizabella, who has fallen on hard times and remembers her once glorious self in more glamorous times. Even so, she decides not to give up, press forward, and start again a new life. It is a touching reminder that we can often start again, no matter how bleak the circumstances might at first seem.

The song is sung briefly in the first act and in full near the end of the show. Memory marks the climax of the musical, and by far its most popular and well-known song.

Memories: 1981 album cover.
Source: Wikipedia

Barbara Streisand is one of the many fine artists who have covered this, well, memorable song about perseverance in the face of adversity. While memories can keep us frozen in the past, immovable and unable to change, in the best cases they can act as markers or guideposts. In that regard, the memories of the past can serve as a catalyst of change.

By Trevor Nunn

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

All alone in the moonlight
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 sputters
And soon it will be morning

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 stale cold smell of morning
A street lamp dies, another night is over
Another day is dawning

Touch me,
It's 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...

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