Sinatra and Tony Mottola performing "Send In The Clowns" at the Concert because that the americas in the Dominican Republic in 1982

Frank Sinatra sang display songs every his life - "Night and Day", "I obtain A Kick the end Of You", "The Lady Is A Tramp", "The song Is You", "My Funny Valentine"... However so did everybody. Till the mid-1960s Broadway to be the best supplier of the many enduring criter ...and then slowly it all sputtered to a halt, and also even hit mirrors didn"t create really well-known songs. In recent decades, such popular music together the theatre has created has come from Phantom of The Opera (which candid eschewed yet Sammy Davis Jr didn"t), Les Miz and the other Brit hits. So below is a rare popular song struggle from the Broadway that the so late 20th century, and we fan it to, of all people, Ingmar Bergman. In 1955, the large Swede of art-house cinema do a film called Smiles of A Summer Night, which over the years inspired a lot of other pieces, consisting of Woody Allen"s Midsummer Night"s Sex Comedy. One further and musical an outcome of the photo was the 18 years later on Glynis Johns found herself ~ above the phase of the Shubert Theatre in brand-new York singing:

Isn"t it rich?Are us a pair?Me below at critical on the groundYou in mid-airSend In The Clowns...

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Sinatra was the first to document it, a few months after miss Johns presented it, ~ above his post-retirement "comeback" LP, Ol" Blue eye Is Back. And a pair of year after that, Judy Collins made the a graph hit ~ above both sides of the Atlantic and won the Grammy for tune of the Year. And also a te after that, Barbra Streisand made a memorable recording on a Number One album. And, in between Lou Rawls and also Kenny Rogers, count Basie and also Stan Kenton, Frida native Abba and Olivia Newton-John, the Tiger Lilies and also Stars of the Lid, it"s Stephen Sondheim"s best-known track - together a composer, the is: as lyricist only, he co-wrote the hugely effective numbers native Gypsy and West side Story, although only one number native those 2 scores was ever before recorded through Sinatra (Gypsy"s "All I require Is The Girl" indigenous his album with duke Ellington). For this reason this is Sondheim"s large hit as a composer/lyricist. And we fan it to Ingmar Bergman.

The smile of a summer night is a tease, at least in Sweden, wherein in midsummer the sun never completely goes down. In various other words, night doesn"t ever before quite fall, i beg your pardon Bergman uses as an image of sex-related frustration: you never ever quite near the deal. In adapting the film because that the stage in 1973, Hugh Wheeler, Stephen Sondheim and also their director Hal Prince kept the time and also place - countryside Sweden in ~ the turn of the century - and also the multiple intersecting romantic convolutions. Fredrik, a affluent lawyer, has actually a new 18-year old wife, Anne, his marital relationship to whom remains unconsummated ~ a year. His boring boy Henrik is additionally in love through his stepmother. Meanwhile, Fredrik"s previous mistress, the actress Desiree, is having actually an affair with a fanatically jealousy soldier, Carl-Magnus. Desiree"s mommy is a as soon as legendary grande horizontale. Etc.

Sondheim wrote the entire score in sport of three-quarter time, v the personalities waltzing in and also out of miscellaneous plot complications. But "Send In The Clowns" to be not component of that original unending schema. Instead, it was written, overnight, throughout rehearsals and also for the earliest of rewrite reasons: they had actually a second Act problem.

Hal Prince had actors in the duty of Desiree the exorbitant Glynis Johns. Us all love Glynis, ever due to the fact that Mary Poppins. She"s pretty and charming and also a wonderful irradiate comedienne and also was perfect for the function of the glamorous actress-mistress. Yet she doesn"t have actually much in the method of a to sing voice - or at least that"s not the factor anyone rental her. And also so Sondheim hadn"t really offered her lot to do. In the big scene in plot Two in between Desiree and Fredrik, it was the masculine lead who did every the talking, and also the composer figured, well, if there"s walk to be a song, it"ll it is in his. And he"d started to turbulent one out when Hal Prince said to him that he thought miss out on Johns" character essential one. And also Sondheim looked at the scene again and also decided Prince was right: even though Fredrik"s the one yakking, it"s Desiree"s reaction you"re interested in. A good Broadway top man, Len Cariou, had actually been actors as Fredrik, and in his one-man display he recounts really drolly, from the perspective of 4 decades, how he felt when Steve and Hal offered him the news that his huge 11 o"clock number would now be her large 11 o"clock number.

So Sondheim written something because that what the calls Glynis Johns" "nice small silvery voice". "I composed it for her voice," the said, "because she couldn"t sustain notes. Wasn"t that kind of singing voice. So ns knew I had actually to write things in short phrases, and also that caused questions." for this reason he wrote the track as a collection of four-syllable questions:

Isn"t that rich?Are us a pair..?

Isn"t it bliss?Don"t friend approve..?

Don"t friend love farce..?

Isn"t that queer..?

Irving Berlin wrote a well known song the was likewise a collection of questions, inquiries that room answered by other questions. I beg your pardon sounds like too clever a conceit because that its own good. Yet it"s not:

How much do ns love you?I"ll tell friend no lie.How Deep Is The Ocean?How high is the sky?How plenty of times a day perform I think the you?How many roses are sprinkled through dew?

The type doesn"t it seems to be ~ tricksy because the basic premise the the song is therefore simple: how much do I love you? by contrast, because that over 40 years, no one"s been quite sure what precisely "Send In The Clowns" is about:

Isn"t it bliss?Don"t friend approve?One who keeps tearing aroundOne who can"t moveWhere room the clowns?Send In The Clowns...

Yes, but what does that mean? Well, in the show Desiree"s one actress, for this reason it might be a showbiz metaphor. She and Fredrik room obviously misalligned lovers: when he"s hot, she"s not, and also vice-versa. It"s like a circus trapeze act, with one half of the team wheeling v the air and the other lying level on his back in the net. And also in the circus, once something walk wrong, what carry out they do? castle send in the clowns. Or probably it"s much easier than that: when love goes awry, it"s prefer Cupid putting on a tiny red nose and giving girlfriend a squirt v the soda syphon. "The song could have been referred to as "Send In The Fools"," said Sondheim, years later. "I knew ns was composing a track in i beg your pardon Desiree is saying, "Aren"t us foolish?" or "Aren"t we fools?" Well, a synonym because that fools is clowns." and that"s about as clear together he"s ever before been ~ above the subject.

But gosh, that tune is beguiling. What"s "Send In The Clowns" about? It"s around three minutes long, and the music constantly sounds pretty. Sondheim is claimed (at the very least according come one fairly dry conference ~ above his occupational I attended) to favor "non-functional" harmony: in this song he doesn"t walk for chord changes but he does use harmony as a means of deepening the colors of the melody and also drawing the ear come the progression of the tune. Why it came to be so uniquely renowned for a Sondheim ingredient is something of a mystery: It"s traditionally diatonic and, in contrast to the spiky lyric, practically a lullaby. And also yet, without the words, it"s likewise rather unvarying and dull.

Still, Sinatra must have actually liked it to add it come his "comeback" album Ol" Blue eye Is Back, an odd mix of unknown soft-rock-ish material scored by Gordon Jenkins. The disc-jockey Jonathan Schwartz is an extremely snooty around Jenkins contrasted to Nelson Riddle, and also it"s true Jenkins doesn"t have actually Riddle"s harmonic textures. Yet he to be a understand storyteller: "(When i was seventeen) It was A Very an excellent Year" is the famed example, but on that Blue eye Is Back set he did together compelling a job on "There provided To be A Ballpark", Sinatra"s elegy because that the Brooklyn Dodgers. And also the Sinatra-Jenkins "Lonely Town" much more or much less singlehandedly rescued indigenous oblivion among Leonard Bernstein"s best songs after it had actually been cut from the film variation of ~ above The Town. The problem on "Send In The Clowns" was the the understand storyteller didn"t have a proviso what story that was supposed to be telling. "That arrangement of "Send In The Clowns" was straightforward to play," Frank"s trombonist Milt Bernhart told Frankologist will Friedwald, "but the didn"t do much for the song. It had some type of a fanfare going on that simply didn"t do much, and I don"t think Sinatra cared either. Eventually, Frank gave up ~ above the arrangement." Gordon Jenkins, ~ above the other hand, provided to tell friends it was his all-time favourite of all the songs they"d excellent together, reportedly impervious to the singer"s abandonment the the chart.

I think Jenkins remained in awe the the material. No long prior to his death, he said that he considered "Send In The Clowns" "the ideal song in the critical 25 years". Even if the were true, which it"s not, it"s no the best mindset with i m sorry to approach an arrangement. Jenkins" predisposition to stateliness and formality play up the most potentially perilous aspect of the song: that preciousness. Yet, the said, the album offered a ton of copies, and, because that the an initial time on a Sondheim score, alerted singers come the possibility that his music can work together a stand-alone song. Two years later, Judy Collins videotaped her version, and not just wound up v a optimal 40 fight but additionally a tune of the Year Grammy - just the 3rd showtune to victory the award in its background (after "What type Of Fool to be I?" and also "Hello, Dolly!"). Miss out on Collins has actually a nice voice but, when she sings standards choose "Bewitched" or "Funny Valentine", she seems to bland all the fact out that the number. Strange enough, she "Send In The Clowns" make the legal responsibility a virtue: due to the fact that it wasn"t completely clear what the fact of the song was, the fey folkie therapy left you v an impression that the point as a satisfied blur. As Glynis Johns, that doesn"t care for many of the pop versions, put it:

When it comes the end of paper definition of the play, it"s acceptable when you have actually a lovely singer prefer Judy Collins doing it. She does that in the most acceptable means for me.

There"s high praise: "acceptable". Yet Miss Johns is right: Judy Collins" singing is "lovely". It likewise has a simple directness, which (unlike the Gordon Jenkins arrangement) tones down that top quality of Sondheim that many irritates non-fans: the way everything appears over-considered, and too pat, less an expression that love 보다 an analysis of it. Needless to say, Barbra Streisand"s record a decade later embraced that certain aspect wholeheartedly, ~ above a mostly Sondheim Broadway Album the plays choose a Barbra-meets-Steve summit that self-congratulatory pretentiousness. For every that, miss out on Streisand walk coax a few extra lyrics the end of the author. She called Sondheim she didn"t get the emotional shift toward the end of the song, and he replied: "Well, it"s since there is no emotional change - there"s a absent scene in there." as he explained, "In the show, other happens between the chorus and also that reprise to give the personality an entire adjust of attitude."

"I adored the melody that the bridge," stated Streisand, sensibly enough: It"s a beautiful broad legato comparison to those four-syllable concerns in the main theme. Therefore she made decision that that"s the component of the melody she wanted to repeat. "But I thought to myself, "Do I dare ask the to compose a new lyric for a track that was already standard?"" Well, amazingly enough, she go dare, and he obliged:

What a surprise!Who might foresee?I"d pertained to feel around youWhat girlfriend felt about meWhy only currently when i seeThat you"ve drifted awayWhat a surpriseWhat a cliché...

As Streisand saw it, the tune was currently a standard. Yet was it? The pianist and composer Richard Rodney Bennett once made a an extremely interesting suggest to me, an ext or much less en passant. Sondheim might be the heir come Rodgers and Hammerstein and also Hart and also Gershwin and also Kern and Jule Styne, but, unequal them, his songs are not yes, really standards. A "standard" is a song that singers execute as slow-moving ballads and also up-tempo swingers and bossa novas, together r"n"b and country and rock and also jazz. And also hardly anyone walk that through Sondheim: 99 every cent that Sondheim recordings are done as an hommage come Sondheim, respecting the original setup of the tune to a degree that would certainly seem bizarrely restrictive with Cole Porter or open minded Loesser. Yet many of the overwrought cabaret darlings execute Sondheim identically: Send in the clones.

There is a far-reaching exception to that rule, and it goes back to the very very first pop recording by Sinatra. "The chart by Gordon Jenkins was crowded with the arranger"s trademark weepy violins and romantic reeds and also while it was expansive sufficient for Sinatra to move around in comfortably i have constantly felt it as well busy," claimed Rod McKuen, the zillion-selling poet who wound increase writing an entire album because that Frank. "I"m not certain I"ll ever confess to what i know about the epiphany that caused Sinatra to get in a studio 3 years later and record "Send In The Clowns" a 2nd time. It"s fairly a story and I"m certain FS wouldn"t mental my share it yet this is not the time or place."

Oh, well. What us do understand is the in 1976 frank went earlier in without Jenkins, there is no the orchestra and with only his longtime pianist invoice Miller. Sinatra actually puts a spoken intro ~ above the song, i m sorry he never did in studio recordings. It"s almost as if he"s trying come clarify his own thinking on the number:

This is a song about a couple of adult world who have spent, oh, fairly a long time together till one day one of them gets restless and decides come leave. Whether it"s the man or woman who leaves isn"t important. It"s about a break-up.

Is it? In current years, Sondheim has sounded kinda snottily condescending around Frank"s view. "Somebody request Sinatra what it to be about," the composer recalled. "He said, "Listen, friend love a chick, she walks out, send in the clowns." the was his explanation." yet it works. He discovered a way into the song: her chick splits. Pow! right in the kisser. Egg almost everywhere your face. The yolk"s top top you. "This performance from February fifth 1976," stated McKuen, "lays to waste his previously version. It is just one of the most stunning recordings this man, who cut thousands of sides in his seven plus years as a record artist, ever made." That"s true. It"s spare and raw and also has a genuine punch. And, if Sondheim weren"t together a snob, he"d realize that Sinatra is the first interpreter to yes, really wring every the juice native those four-syllable concerns he composed to accommodate Glynis Johns" to sing voice. It"s not just that she couldn"t sustain notes however that it"s perverse in the extreme also to try to do so: Sinatra puts a real bite top top the "ch" that "Isn"t the rich?" and also on "Don"t girlfriend love farce?" tinges the last word through a palpable self-disgust. Unlike the Collins record or the Jenkins arrangement, you feel there are real world feeling actual pain. True, friend can"t yes, really extend and sustain "rich", though i was once on a radio display with the cabaret singer Ann Hampton Callaway whereby she walk a little musical joke previewing one album referred to as Dylan Sings Sondheim and also she gave it a jolly good try: "Eeeeesn"t it reeeeeeech?"

"Steve Sondheim is, there is no doubt, a classy composer and lyricist," claimed Sinatra. "However, he might make me a lot more happiness if he"d write an ext songs for saloon singers prefer me." He had actually other fish come fry, and I think that will certainly hurt his catalogue"s prospects v posterity. It seems strange consciously to court unpopularity in a famous medium. In the satirical revue Forbidden Broadway a rueful mustache Sondheim number trudges on v a lop-sided smile and also sings "Send In The Crowds":

Though I keep writing my songs v my normal flairAfter action OneNo-one is there...

The writer Gerard Alessandrini had Sondheim"s permission come parody the number, and also why not? These space the joke Sondheim makes around himself, attract commercial unviability as a argorial of honor. Once Glynis Johns offered to make a single of "Send In The Clowns", Columbia records scoffed, and then explained that this stuff to be Cartier not Woolworth.

But that doesn"t have to be. And, after the solo recording with Bill Miller, that"s exactly how Sinatra sang it almost to the finish - just him and the sparest the accompaniments, generally from his longtime guitarist Tony Mottola. This tune wiggled totally free of that straitjacket, and also Sinatra"s solo versions remind you of Jule Styne"s an excellent dictum: "Without the rendition, there is no song":

Isn"t it rich?Isn"t that queer?Losing my time this late in mine careerAnd where room the clowns?Quick, Send In The ClownsDon"t bother, they"re here....

~For an alternate Frank hot 100, the Pundette is additionally counting down her Sinatra fight parade, and also is approximately hit sound 11 - the focused blast that "I concentrate On You". Bob Belvedere is celebrating Sinatra"s top Ten Albums, and at Number 4 has what some Frank fans would consider an unexplained choice, Gordon Jenkins and also a collection of fragrant waltzes native the fog of memory. The angry Blogger Lady, meanwhile, celebrates Sinatra and also a Jerome Kern masterpiece, "All The things You Are".

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~Steyn"s initial 1998 obituary the Frank, "The Voice", deserve to be found in the anthology mark Steyn from Head come Toe, while you deserve to read the story behind numerous other Sinatra song in note Steyn"s American Songbook. Personal autographed copies of both books are exclusively accessible from the bookstore.