Thursday, January 28, 2010

An Ordinary Man

The CD of My Fair Lady includes an interview with Rex Harrison who when asked what song was his favorite said, "An Ordinary Man."

The genius of this song: it is spoken rather than sung. The lyricist, Alan Jay Lerner explained that the word at the end of the phrase goes down because the note would be unsustainable for the vocalist if the last note rose rather than fell.

Positively delicious lyrics. Enjoy. 

I'm an ordinary man,
Who desires nothing more than an ordinary chance
to live exactly as he likes
and do precisely what he wants.
An average man am I, of no eccentric whim
Who likes to live his life, free of strife
doing whatever he thinks is best, for him.
Well, just an ordinary man …
Let a woman in your life 
and your serenity is through;
she'll redecorate your home 
from the cellar to the dome
and then go on to the enthralling 
fun of overhauling you.

Let a woman in your life 
and you're up against a wall.
Make a plan and you will find
that she has something else in mind
and so rather than do either [long I sound]
you do something else
that neither likes at all.

You want to talk of Keats and Milton;
she only wants to talk of love.
You go to see a play or ballet,
and spend it searching for her glove.
Let a woman in your life
and you invite eternal strife.
Let them buy their wedding bands for those anxious little hands;
I'd be equally as willing for a dentist to be drilling
than to ever let a woman in my life.

I'm a very gentle man,
even tempered and good natured
who you never hear complain,
who has the milk of human kindness
by the quart in every vein.
A patient man am I, down to my fingertips,
the sort who never could, ever would,
let an insulting remark escape his lips
A very gentle man …

But, let a woman in your life,
and patience hasn't got a chance.
She will beg you for advice, 
your reply will be concise,
and she will listen very nicely, 
and then go out
and do exactly what she wants!

You are a man of grace and polish,
who never spoke above a hush.
All at once you're using language
that would make a sailor blush.

Let a woman in your life,
and you're plunging in a knife.
Let the others of my sex, tie the knot around their necks,
I prefer a new edition of the Spanish Inquisition
than to ever let a woman in my life.

I'm a quiet living man,
who prefers to spend the evening in the silence of his room,
who likes an atmosphere as restful as
an undiscovered tomb.
A pensive man am I, of philosophic joys,
who likes to meditate, contemplate,
far from humanity’s mad inhuman noise.
A quiet living man.

But, let a woman in your life
and your sabbatical is through.
In a line that never ends 
comes an army of her friends,
come to jabber and to chatter
and to tell her what the matter is with YOU.

She'll have a booming boisterous family,
who will descend on you en mass.
She'll have a large Wagnarian mother,
with a voice that shatters glass.
Let a woman in your life
Let a woman in your life
Let a woman in your life
I shall never let a woman in my life.

And God said, It is not good for man to live alone.

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