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Lyr Req: The Arts (Lee Adams, Charles Strouse)

GUEST,kwanlu 01 Oct 09 - 02:33 AM
Jim Dixon 11 Oct 09 - 05:10 PM
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Subject: 'Taking Up the Arts'
From: GUEST,kwanlu
Date: 01 Oct 09 - 02:33 AM

This is not a folk song, but I'm trying to track down a comic song I heard back in the early '60s. It purported to be a group of mothers lamenting that their sons had "taken up the arts", and the refrain would be along the lines of "Poor Mrs. Eliot! T.S., Mrs. Eliot", with the last one, in which a mother praises her successful offspring, runs,"Oh, Mrs. Luciano! Lucky Mrs. Luciano!" Anyway, anyone??? Thanks!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Taking Up the Arts
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 11 Oct 09 - 05:10 PM

The song you're referring to is THE ARTS, words by Lee Adams, music by Charles Strouse. I have found contradictory accounts of its origin: some say it first appeared in an Off-Broadway revue called "Shoestring" produced in 1955 by Ben Begley; others say it was a later revue by the same producer called "Shoestring '57".

I found a description: "sung by Bea Arthur with Fay de Witt and Dorothy Greener, a group of mothers lament the artistic bents of their sons, Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, and T. S. Eliot."

Adams and Strouse are best known for "Bye Bye Birdie" (1960); Strouse also wrote music for "Annie" (1977).

The lyrics of THE ARTS appears in The Best of Broadway: A Revue edited by David Rogers (Woodstock, Ill.: The Dramatic Publishing Company, 1989), page 36-41.

That book is still under copyright, and Google Books classifies it as "Limited preview." The entire song is viewable, but I can't copy and paste it, and I don't have the patience to type the whole thing. Here's an excerpt:

ALL: The Arts! The Arts!
The lowest of the Arts!
Her Tommy ran away to write such rot! (Tommy rot.)
Poor Mrs. Eliot!
And your son T. S., Mrs. Eliot!
Better Tommy should be taken out and shot!

MRS. L.: Well, girls—
I hate a bragging mother,
But I can't be any other,
For my Charles has been a model
Son since he tried to toddle!
He's not a bit artistic,
But he's smart and realistic,
He is gen'rous, sweet and healthy,
And he's very, very wealthy!

OTHERS: The Arts! The Arts!
He isn't in the Arts!
Your Charlie has turned out so perfectly!
Oh, Mrs. Luciano!
Lucky Mrs. Luciano!
Your son is just what ev'ry son should be!

ALL: But Cole* and Johnnie** broke their mothers' hearts!
By taking up, by taking up, by taking up, by taking up,
By taking up—the Arts!

[*Porter **Steinbeck]

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