I found this ‘rant’ while going through my files today, and I thought I’d share it on the interwebverse. It’s a little rough and simple, but then it was written at least four years ago.
How many times do you find yourself suddenly bursting into song about the object of your affections? Imagine walking down the street, thinking about your lady or man, and suddenly singing about how much you love them. Sounds romantic right? But what if what you had only met the person one time? What if what you sing about is not the person themselves, but rather their place of dwelling, the nature of their hair, or their name? Now, it is true that romance in musicals tends to be somewhat fast and sudden, but there’s cute and then there’s scary. Observe, the three most blatant ‘stalker’ songs of Broadway. These three guys would do anything for the women they love, even sing their hearts out in the middle of the street. Amazingly romantic, or incredibly creepy? You decide.
First up is Tony, from West Side Story. He falls in love with Puerto Rican girl, Maria, and sings of his love for her very name. He even resorts to blasphemy, by saying that when you say her name softly ‘it’s almost like praying’. In addition, he claims he’ll never stop saying her name because it is so beautiful. I guess that would put a damper on any relationship; he would be all, ‘Maria, Maria, Maria’ nonstop, and she would be saying, ‘Stop saying my name already!’ Poor woman.. and then she has to live with the fact that he kills her brother. Very strange indeed.
Next up is debonair Freddy Eynsford-Hill who sings ‘On the Street Where You Live’ from My Fair Lady while walking down Eliza Doolittle’s street. Although the voice and lyrics sound very romantic at first, upon close inspection we can see that this an even creepier stalker song. Freddy sings that he gets a ‘high’ or extreme joy out of walking up and down her street, and that the very pavement and even the neighboring doors ooze out enchantment from her presence. That is slightly weird, like a fanatic waiting for a glimpse at the object of his obsession. Then, to further emphasize his obsession, he says that ‘People stop and stare’ but ‘they don’t bother him [me]’. Not caring what others think of your obsession is a sign of obsession. Then, by the end of the song, he reclines against a post and just watches her house. No wonder Eliza doesn’t go for him.
And finally, the most recent ‘Stalker’ song is none other than ‘Johanna’ sung by Anthony in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. This dashing young sailor falls in love with a girl he sees for only an instant on a window from down in the street. While the previous two fell in love with their girls at a dance or at the races, Anthony only sees Johanna from afar and instantly falls for her. Subsequently, he sings his song about how he’s going to ‘steal’ her. True, she’s being kept prisoner, but he doesn’t say he’ll rescue her, he says ‘steal’. And why does he want to do this, for love? Maybe, but the only reason he mentions is to be ‘sweetly buried in [her] yellow hair’. Obviously, the boy has some issues he needs to work on.
In conclusion, while at first these songs may appear to be devout declarations of love, they actually could be seen as perverted songs from an obsessed (maybe even a little sick) mind. Are they in love, or obsessed? I supposed that’s up to the girls to decide, but think about this, do you want a man who worships your very name, the street where you live, and who would even stoop to stealing you? But, maybe some girls are into that… after all, for every weird obsessed guy, there is an equally freaky obsessed girl. Then again…. maybe Maria and Johanna get together for counseling sessions every other week about making better choices. On that vein of thought, although Eliza doesn’t end up with Freddy, she does apparently go for Professor Higgins, who also sings a most unusual song about her, curiously walking down the street as well. His song, though not precisely ‘stalker-like’, is all about how he reluctantly accepts that he ‘has grown accustomed’ to Eliza’s face. Not a particularly romantic declaration, and almost as creepy as singing about the street where she lives. Therefore, on second thought, Eliza should join Maria and Johanna for a couple of ‘decision making’ workshops.
Let me know what you think; whether you agree that these guys are scary and worrying, or whether you think they’re actually romantic. Don’t worry, if you do, we won’t call the local madhouse 😉
AR singing off!
West Side Story (1961), United Artists.
My Fair Lady (1964), Paramount Pictures and CBS.
Sweeney Todd (2007), Dreamworks Pictures.