One song I like playing here on Mothers Day is "Mama, a Rainbow" from the musical Minnie's Boys, about the Marx Brothers, with music by Larry Grossman and lyrics by Hal Hackady. (Bear with me, that has a very minor but fun point which I'll get to later.) The song is sung in the show by a young Adolph Marx, who would become Harpo. He's realized it's their mother's birthday, and the boys not only forgot but are flat broke and couldn't have gotten her anything even if they'd have remembered.
There are a lot of versions of this online, including from the Broadway cast album, but I"m going to go with this video, sung by the oft-mentioned here Shelly Goldstein. As sharp readers of these pages should easily recall, I mentioned that the Lady Shellington was the Head Writer of that wonderful "A Starry Night" gala of Northwestern University alumni a few weeks back. I bring this up for two reasons -- one is to give her full credit for her well-rounded career as both a fine cabaret performer and successful writer (who was given her start in TV by Garry Marshall.) And the other is something that Shelly herself may not know (though being her, she may...) -- that the aforementioned composer of the song, Larry Grossman went to...Northwestern University.
[UPDATE: Being her, she was indeed aware.]
Anyway, the introduction into the main part of the song begins with Adolph singing --
"What do you give to the woman who has nothing?"
"Don't say nothing," his mother Minnie sings back. "I have you."
"What you give to the woman who has nothing," he sings back. "I could window-shop the world before I'm through."
Which brings us to this.
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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