Just had a two-hour conversation about old flames with some friends, and this song just seemed TOO relevant not to post. Here’s Betty Buckley singing “Old Friend,” a beautifully world-weary song from the mostly forgotten musical I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking it On the Road.
Every time I’ve lost another lover I call up my old friend And I say, “Let’s get together I’m under the weather Another love has come to an end” And he listens as I tell him my sad story And wonders at my taste in men And we ponder why I do it And the pain of getting through it And he laughs and says, “You’ll do it again”
So we sit in a bar and talk ‘til two About life and love as old friends do And tell each other what we’ve been through
How love is rare, life is strange Nothing lasts, people change
Maltby and Shire wrote The Grand Tour—which has zilch to do with Herman’s musical—while they were undergrads at Yale. It was the follow up to their previous collaboration an adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac. It’s an original story much along the lines of Do I Hear a Waltz? and The Light in the Piazza (women in the 1950s learn bittersweet lessons about life and love on vacation in Italy). While writing great material for women became one of their specialities as professionals, as undergrads it was more of a loophole: School rules required them to cast undergrads in their productions, even though they were much more interested in the performers in the graduate drama program. The undergrad college, however, was still a men’s only operation at the time, whereas the graduate program was co-ed. So they wrote a female centric show so as to snare graduate students for the leads.
This brief, jaunty duet features some wonderfully fun harmonies and is the type of song that puts a spring in your step if it comes up on shuffle.
This was the only song on the Betty Buckley’s Broadway album I wasn’t familiar with. (It’s also the only song not from a Broadway show—it’s from I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking it On the Road, which Buckley did in NYC and L.A.). But it’s Buckley in a nutshell, if you ask me. And I, for one, love her habit of turning everything into an uptempo. (Compare Buckley’s version to the Original London Cast)