Once upon a time Broadway was (really!) the source of major radio hits. Similarly, once upon a time politicians campaigned with actual campaign songs with personalized lyrics rather than just using an existing song. And, tipped off by Stephen Sondheim's second book of annotated lyrics (Look, I Made A Hat) we've got our hands on a mashup of those two historical facts that is going to blow the minds of a certain subset of Broadway geeks and NYC history nerds. Ladies and gentleman, we present you "With Lindsay It's Coming Up Roses," a mayoral campaign song for John Lindsay performed by no less than Ethel freaking Merman! They don't make 'em like this anymore, kids:
In Sondheim's new book—which hits stores tomorrow and which you will love if you dug the first one—the Broadway master describes very briefly the genesis of the song:
This is the only campaign song I ever wrote; it was for John V. Lindsay when he ran for mayor of New York City. He was a friend and I believed in his politics. The tune should be familiar; not too surprisingly, it was Ethel Merman who sang it: ... As it turned out, [Lindsay] was one of the best mayors the city ever had.
And, for all the lyrical geeks out there who can't listen while at the office, here are Sondheim's Lindsay lyrics (the music, if you didn't know, is by Jule Styne):
Poor old New York,
It used to be great, voters—
In nineteen oh eight, voters-
It's still not too late,
We've been down, we've been done,
It's a drought, and in more ways than one.
City Hall needs some rain.
Well, with Lindsay it's coming up roses!
We were clipped while we slept
With those promises nobody kept.
Where'd they go? Down the drain.
But with Lindsay it's coming up roses!
What a pity
That we waited so long
While our city
Went to the dogs in committee!
Dirty streets, dirty air,
Dirty deals they pretend aren't there.
In the past
We've been stuck
Now at last
We're in luck:
What John V. Lindsay says he'll do, he'll do!
And with Lindsay it's coming up roses for me and for you!
He can do it,
Make us proud once again.
Someone blew it,
Lindsay is gonna see to it!
Crimes are up, jobs are down,
We need someone who cares for the town.
We need truth,
We need youth
With a broom:
John Lindsay is the man to pull us through,
'Cause with Lindsay it's less crime and more integration;
With Lindsay it's few words and much legislation;
With Lindsay it's no deals and all dedication;
With Lindsay it's coming up roses for me and for you!