Thursday, January 11, 2007

Still Here

In her one-woman show, ELAINE STRITCH AT LIBERTY, Stritchy talks about seeing women in their 40's singing I'M STILL HERE, Stephen Sondheim's landmark song from the musical FOLLIES. At 40, they are far too young to sing and understand the song. As Stritchy puts it...

"I'm still here? Where've they been?"

I can understand why they want to sing it, though. The song speaks to all artists, regardless of gender or art form or age. It's our little anthem about living through a life of being the focus of enormous attention one minute and being forgotten soon after.

And beyond that, I'M STILL HERE resonates on so many other levels.

My favorite moment of the movie POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE is when Doris (Shirley MacLaine) is singing the song at a birthday party she's throwing for her daughter Suzanne (Meryl Streep) who has just gotten out of drug rehab.

Doris/Shirley moves down to Suzanne/Meryl, takes her daughter's face in her hands and sings the line "I got through all of last year..." directly into Suzanne/Meryl's eyes and changes the meaning of the lyric from the stuggles of her life to her struggles with her daughter's drug addiction and recovery. The reaction shot given by Meryl Streep after that moment is breathtaking.

But no matter who identifies with the song, I'M STILL HERE will always belong to Yvonne de Carlo.

Yvonne played Carlotta in the original cast of FOLLIES on Broadway and her original song was CAN THAT BOY FOXTROT! In it, she sang about meeting a grocery clerk who didn't look like much but (as the lyric goes),"Boy... can that boy ffffffffffff- -oxtrot!"

I don't have to spell out what the audience THOUGHT Ms. de Carlo was going to say instead of "foxtrot," do I?

But that song, funny as that is, was just a one-joke song. I believe it was Michael Bennett who asked for another song in it's place.

So, Sondheim talked to Yvonne, listened to her stories about her career and wrote I'M STILL HERE...

...about her life.

And from what I heard, Yvonne never much cared for other people singing I'M STILL HERE.

"That's MY song," she would say.

Yvonne de Carlo passed away on Monday.
So, for those of you who only think of her as Lily Munster... are the lyrics to I'M STILL HERE. This is, and will always be, Yvonne de Carlo's biography. It will keep her with us.


Good times and bum times, I've seen them all and, my dear,
I'm still here.

Plush velvet sometimes, Sometimes just pretzels and beer,
But I'm here.

I've stuffed the dailies In my shoes.
Strummed ukuleles, Sung the blues,
Seen all my dreams disappear,
But I'm here.

I've slept in shanties, Guest of the W.P.A.,
But I'm here.

Danced in my scanties, Three bucks a night was the pay,
But I'm here.

I've stood on bread lines with the best,
Watched while the headlines did the rest.
In the Depression was I depressed? Nowhere near.
I met a big financier And I'm here.

I've been through Gandhi, Windsor and Wally's affair,
And I'm here.

Amos 'n' Andy, Mah-jongg and platinum hair,
And I'm here.

I got through Abie's Irish Rose,
Five Dionne babies, Major Bowes,
Had heebie-jeebies For Beebe's Bathysphere.
I lived through Brenda Frazier, and I'm here.

I've gotten through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover,
Gee, that was fun and a half.
When you've been through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover,
Anything else is a laugh.

I've been through Reno. I've been through Beverly Hills,
And I'm here.

Reefers and vino, rest cures, religion and pills,
And I'm here

Been called a pinko Commie tool,
Got through it stinko by my pool.
I should have gone to an acting school. That seems clear,
Still, someone said, "She's sincere," So I'm here.

Black sable one day. Next day it goes into hock,
But I'm here.

Top billing Monday, Tuesday you're touring in stock,
But I'm here.

First you're another slow-eyed vamp,
Then someone's mother, then you're camp.
Then you career from career to career.
I'm almost through my memoirs. And I'm here.

I've gotten through "Hey, lady, aren't you whoozis?
Wow! What a looker you were."
Or, better yet, "Sorry, I thought you were whoozis.
Whatever happened to her?"

Good times and bum times, I've seen 'em all and, my dear,
I'm still here.
Plush velvet sometimes, sometimes just pretzels and beer,
But I'm here.

I've run the gamut. A to Z.
Three cheers and dammit, c'est la vie.

I got through all of last year and I'm here.

Lord knows, at least I was there,
And I'm here!

Look who's here!

I'm still here!

1 comment:

Nico said...


You'd spoken about "postcard from the edge" ans shirley Maclaine's interpretation, and i think too that it's a so amazing moment of the movie.

Please, i'm french. And like almost all french guy, my english is ... how do you say ... pooor !!!! lol

So, please, anybody can write this song's lyrics....?!!! pleeeeaaaaasse

i've looking for those lyrics everywhere in the net .. and i'didn't find them!!

Please help me!!!...

Thks to you so much !!