Yeah, okay, we sort of have to have this one. It's a lovely song from the musical Minnie's Boys, about the Marx Bros, with music by Larry Grossman, and lyrics by Hal Hackady. The number is performed by Adolph -- who is better known to the world as 'Harpo' -- sung to their mother on her birthday, when the brothers are flat broke.
Though there are a lot of videos of the song, I was instead going to play the audio-only version from the original cast album, with Daniel Fortus as 'Harpo' (sung to Shelley Winters). Most of the videos are done very well, but from a slightly different point of view, an emotional, general expression of love for their mother. It's a perfectly valid interpretation, though in the show it's poignancy to me comes from being sung by a son who quite-literally doesn't have a gift for his mother on her birthday or enough money to even get her anything, but needs to tell her directly, to her face, what he would get for her if he could -- and being 'Harpo,' in a sweet, endearing way.
But then I found this. The sound quality is very scratchy, but the song comes through very clearly. It's from a live performance of the musical with the original performer Daniel Fortus, recorded off the stage board monitor. Interestingly, though the show had a very short run on Broadway and closed in 1970, this is from two years later, in July, 1972 at the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, so clearly they did a revival of the musical. I did a little research -- and not only was it a revival, but four of the five actors who played "the boys" in the original Broadway production were in this version, as well, including Lewis J. Stadlen who had been acclaimed for his portrayal of 'Groucho' on Broadway, winning the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance in a Musical. (One of the four played a different brother this time, going from 'Gummo,' the brother who was never in the movies but became an agent, to playing 'Chico' in this production.) The mother Minnie -- who has one line in the song below -- was played by Kaye Ballard.
But the point here is the song and Daniel Fortus. It's near-identical to the original cast recording -- until the key change, when he performs it very differently and in some ways even more powerfully. Which the enthusiastic audience applause recognizes at the end.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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