Monday, September 13, 2004

Fred Ebb, dead at 76

Fred Ebb, the lyricist half of Kander & Ebb, has died. Best known for the musicals Cabaret, Chicago and New York, New York, he and John Kander wrote "New York, New York" specifically for my computer's itunes sweetheart, Liza Minnelli.

NPR played pieces of several Kander & Ebb songs this morning, including Jill Haworth's original Broadway interpretation of "Cabaret." One element of this song which sends it into the realm of brilliance, is that it can be plausibly interpreted in several ways by different actors. Haworth's version is that this song is simply part of Sally's job at the cabaret. The recent revival interpretation is that Sally's life is one of constant struggle, and she "loves a cabaret" because, in a tragic way, she must. Liza Minnelli's version, which I think is the best, is one of woman who will survive and triumph. It's hardly surprising that I would prefer this interpretation in general, but amidst the Liza Minnelli pop culture morass, it's easy to forget that she really can sing. The best moment in Minnelli's interpretation comes in the final notes. Where most singers simply sing what's written, Minnelli adds an extra two grace notes just before the final note, with a punch behind all three that can only be sung at a triple forte.

Words Written: five hundred and two
Lessons Graded: one, and do I ever have a backlog...

1 comment:

Swankette said...

This makes me so sad! Chicago is, quite possible, my favorite musical ever. If you can get past the costumes it's ALL about the music. Any spoken words are blatant transitions between songs, so they can get back to the singing and the dancing and oh this is so sad.