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This song is from the 1981 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats. It is sung by the character Grizabella briefly in the first act and in full at the climax of the show. Grizabella is a very old, dishevelled cat who in this song harks back to her days as a glamorous dancer and declares her wishes to start a new life.
The lyrics for Cats were written by the English film and theatre director Trevor Nunn. He based them on T.S. Eliot's 1939 collection of poems, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Grizabella is not mentioned in the book, however Eliot's widow Valerie gave Nunn an unpublished eight line poem by Eliot called "Grizabella the Glamour Cat." It has also been said that she is a feline version of a woman, who is mentioned in Eliot's poem Rhapsody on a Windy Night.
Andrew Lloyd Webber was originally nervous about this song's tune as he was concerned that it was similar to one of Puccini's. He was afraid of being accused of plagiarism and played it to several people, the last of whom was his father, the composer William Lloyd Webber. Andrew asked him, "Does this sound like anything to you?" His father replied, "Yes. It sounds like $5 million!"
Elaine Page was the original Grizabella in the London West End production of Cats
. She also recorded the music video and the single release. Page first became known for her lead role in the original production of Evita
. This was her most successful recording as a solo artist, though she achieved a UK #1 with "I Know Him So Well
," which was a duet with Barbara Dickson.
Betty Buckley was the first to play Grizabella on Broadway and the singer won a 1983 Tony for outstanding achievement in the theater for her performances. The Broadway show won seven Tonys in total in 1983, including the one for Best Musical.
Among the many other artists to have recorded this song have been Barry Manilow, Barbra Streisand and Michael Crawford.
Internet sensation Susan Boyle sang this for her semi-final appearance on Britain's Got Talent.
The only Irishman to play at Woodstock (backing Joe Cocker), Henry was an early member of Paul McCartney's band Wings.
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