MY FAIR LADY
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK RECORDING
Original 1964 album liner notes
WHY CAN’T THE ENGLISH? 2:34
(Henry Higgins, Eliza Doolittle, Colonel Pickering)
WOULDN’T IT BE LOVERLY 4:20
(Eliza Doolittle, Ensemble)
I’M JUST AN ORDINARY MAN 4:34
WITH A LITTLE BIT OF LUCK 2:28
(Alfred P. Doolittle, Harry, Jamie, Ensemble)
JUST YOU WAIT 2:57
THE RAIN IN SPAIN 2:13
(Henry Higgins, Eliza Doolittle, Colonel Pickering)
I COULD HAVE DANCED ALL NIGHT 3:57
(Eliza Doolittle, Mrs. Pearce, Chambermaids)
ASCOT GAVOTTE 3:07
ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE 1:58
YOU DID IT 4:00
(Henry Higgins, Colonel Pickering, Mrs. Pearce)
SHOW ME 2:10
(Eliza Doolittle, Freddy Eynsford-Hill)
GET ME TO THE CHURCH ON TIME 3:24
(Alfred P. Doolittle, Ensemble)
A HYMN TO HIM 3:35
(Henry Higgins, Colonel Pickering)
WITHOUT YOU 2:31
(Eliza Doolittle, Henry Higgins)
I’VE GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO HER FACE 4:55
The facts on My Fair Lady can be easily stated. About a decade ago, Alan Jay Lerner, writer, and Frederick Loewe, composer, decided to make a musical play out of Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. To some people this might not have seemed like a promising idea. The musical stage is a sensuous medium with an orchestra, singers, scenery and other aids to festivity, but Shaw was a puritanical intellectual who despised the mating routines of the popular theater. He saw a sociological kind of romance in the skill with which a professor of phonetics could transform a guttersnipe into a lady by refining her speech, and he rejected the kind in which the theater traditionally luxuriates.
But now see – or in the case of this record, hear – what happens when gifted theater men make a musical play and then a film out of an intellectual comedy. It throbs with romance. Lovers yearn. Hearts are broken. Not that Mr. Lerner vulgarizes Shaw’s style. He matches it in witty lyrics that hum with irony.
The dramatic tension is not romantic in the familiar sense of the word. It centers around a speech exercise. Eliza Doolittle, the guttersnipe, learns how to say, “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain,” like a lady. I shall never forget the excitement with which a New York audience, on March 15, 1956, listened to this crucial test of Eliza’s newly acquired use of the spoken language.
If My Fair Lady implies a romantic attachment between Eliza and her teacher, Professor Henry Higgins, it is largely because Mr. Loewe’s gift of melody is irresistible. He writes enjoyable music with gusto, charm and lyrical variety. His score performs the professional function of expressing the nature of the different characters and of carrying the narrative briskly forward.
The songs that have become most familiar in nightclubs and on the air as well as on the screen and in the theater are the romantic ones. “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “Get Me To The Church On Time,” “On The Street Where You Live” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face” have become part of our musical heritage because they appeal to the heart rather than the mind. If Shaw had been alive when My Fair Lady was produced, he too would have had to become accustomed to a new face on Pygmalion.
Being a versatile composer, Mr. Loewe has no difficulty in expressing the wit of the story in songs that are dry and swift. “I’m Just An Ordinary Man,” “Just You Wait,” “You Did It,” “Show Me” and “Without You” are most amusing and convey Shaw’s sardonic attitudes with agility.
The great thing about My Fair Lady is the uniformity of its skill: it brings as much enthusiasm to the intellectual elements of the story as it does to the characters. But the richness of Mr. Loewe’s score makes My Fair Lady romantic despite Shaw’s anti-romantic disclaimer. In an epilogue to Pygmalion he said that Eliza is too strong-minded a girl to fetch Henry Higgins’ slippers for the rest of her life. She will marry someone – Freddy – who will wait on her.
These matters can be argued, but the genius of My Fair Lady is even more elusive – a magic that distinguishes it from many other enjoyable musical works and cannot be identified. Before Mr. Lerner and Mr. Loewe wrote My Fair Lady, they wrote other excellent musical shows, some of which have disappeared into the shade that finally engulfs most theater work. But My Fair Lady delights the public today as much as it did when it was new. It radiates some mysterious rapture and incandescence that are unique and enduring.
(During his thirty-five years on The New York Times, Brooks Atkinson exercised more critical influence on the American theater than any other individual. The press has honored him with a Pulitzer Prize; the stage by naming a Broadway theater for him. As “Critic At Large” he now contributes a twice-weekly column to The Times.)
Front Cover Art: Bob Peak
Back Cover Photo: Bob Willoughby
Production Photos: Mel Traxel
® “Columbia Masterworks” Marcas Reg. Printed in U.S.A.
Stereo KOS 2600
Warner Bros. Pictures Presents
AUDREY HEPBURN REX HARRISON
GLADYS COOPER JEREMY BRETT
Based on the play “My Fair Lady”
Book and Lyrics by ALAN JAY LERNER
Music by FREDERICK LOEWE
Cinematography by HERMES PAN
Music Supervised and Conducted by ANDRÉ PREVIN
Screenplay by ALAN JAY LERNER
Produced by JACK L. WARNER
Directed by GEORGE CUKOR