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Origins: Ring Down the Curtain (I Can't Sing...)

GUEST,Julia 10 May 04 - 09:42 PM
Amos 10 May 04 - 10:44 PM
GUEST,julia 11 May 04 - 12:32 PM
Joe Offer 11 May 04 - 09:56 PM
Cool Beans 12 May 04 - 11:51 AM
GUEST 03 Dec 08 - 05:31 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Dec 08 - 08:42 PM
Snuffy 04 Dec 08 - 09:04 AM
Snuffy 04 Dec 08 - 08:00 PM
Jim Dixon 22 Feb 10 - 11:12 AM
Jim Dixon 22 Mar 11 - 07:22 PM
GUEST 23 Apr 12 - 06:40 AM
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Subject: Origins: One evening into a theater
From: GUEST,Julia
Date: 10 May 04 - 09:42 PM

here's another one from my grandmother- probably from a melodrama?
My mother sang it at bedtime
Any ideas?

One evening into a theater
I happened by chance to stray
'Twas crowded with beauty and fashion
Who'd come there to see a new play
A singer stepped forth to amuse us
When suddenly there came a cry
A messenger gave him a letter
He read it and said with a sigh

"Bring down the curtain- I can't sing tonight
My heart is aching amidst all this light
My little one is dying the pride of my life
So Bring down the curtain- I can't sing tonight"

There's more- penny dreadful!

WE kids loved this especially the part about the clock ticking away the hours


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Subject: RE: Origins: One evening into a theater
From: Amos
Date: 10 May 04 - 10:44 PM

That's classic mellerdrammer indeed!! Thanks!


A


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Subject: RE: Origins: One evening into a theater
From: GUEST,julia
Date: 11 May 04 - 12:32 PM

Oh, it gets better

"The clock on the mantle was ticking
The hours as they flew by
And over a cradle a mother was bending
And praying her babe might not die
While far away at the theater
The hundreds who'd come to the play
Were silent, though many were weeping
As sadly that singer did say

"Bring down the curtain- I can't sing tonight
My heart is aching amidst all this light
My little one is dying the pride of my life
So Bring down the curtain- I can't sing tonight"

Right up there with the Titanic in kid repertoire
(Oh it was sad, it was sad etc)

Would love toknow where this thing cames from and if there's any more to it
cheers- Julia


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Subject: RE: Origins: One evening into a theater
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 May 04 - 09:56 PM

Hi, Julia - This Google Search shows that the song is "Ring Down the Curtain (I Can't Sing Tonight)," and that it was recorded by Gracie Fields. Gracie recorded from the 1920's to the 1940's, with hits like "In My Little Bottom Drawer" and "What Can You Give a Nudist On His Birthday?" It looks like there is a CD of "Ring" available (click), but not in wide circulation. That's a start, though.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Origins: One evening into a theater
From: Cool Beans
Date: 12 May 04 - 11:51 AM

Dang! That's right up there with "The Letter Edged in Black" for weepitude.


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Subject: RE: Origins: One evening into a theater
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 05:31 PM

My Grandad sings this...do you know where it is from?


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Subject: RE: Origins: One evening into a theater
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 08:42 PM

This "Antique Audio Show for February 22, 2008" has Franklyn Wallace singing it in 1902. With lots of other splendid stuff.

I'm sure there should be a third verse telling us how it all turned out, but if so it's not on the record.


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Subject: RE: Origins: One evening into a theater
From: Snuffy
Date: 04 Dec 08 - 09:04 AM

Mudcat's own Joybell has recorded this. When I get home I'll have a look what she says about it in the sleevenotes.


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Subject: RE: Origins: One evening into a theater
From: Snuffy
Date: 04 Dec 08 - 08:00 PM

Joybell's 2003 album Joy has the following notes:
words: Robert Brennen, tune: Joy. Written with its own tune which is less singable than this one. Seemingly contrived, it was nonetheless exactly the situation in which performer Joseph Cowell found himself in 1820 when his baby daughter was dying.


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Subject: Lyr Add: RING DOWN THE CURTAIN (Brennen, Story)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 22 Feb 10 - 11:12 AM

Here's my transcription from the recording. (See McGrath's link above.) The authorship credit comes from WorldCat.com—which indicates there are a few libraries that have the sheet music, but I could find no images online.

Note that a few words and phrases are a bit different from those already posted.

RING DOWN THE CURTAIN
Words Robert H. Brennen. Music, Pauline B. Story.
New York: W. H. Anstead, ©1902.
As recorded by Franklyn Wallace (1902)

1. One evening into a theater I happened by chance to stray.
'Twas crowded with beauty and fashion who came there to see the new play.
A singer stepped forth to amuse them when suddenly there came a cry.
As a messenger gave him a letter, he read it and made this reply:

CHORUS: "Ring down the curtain. I can't sing tonight.
My heart is breaking amidst all this light.
My little one's dying, my pride and delight,
So ring down the curtain. I can't sing tonight."

2. The clock on the mantle was ticking the moments as they flew by.
O'er the cradle a mother was bending and praying her child might not die.
While far away at the theater, the thousands who came to the play
Were silent though many were weeping. How sadly the singer did say: CHORUS


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Subject: Lyr Add: RING DOWN THE CURTAIN (parody, G Fields)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 07:22 PM

You can see the sheet music for the above song at the web site of Baylor University, but I'm more interested in this parody:

You can play or download the following song at The Internet Archive. It's song #2 on that page. Here's my transcription:


RING DOWN THE CURTAIN, I CAN'T SING TO-NIGHT
Words and music by Lewis Ilda, Max Kester & Sonny Miller, 1936.
As sung by Gracie Fields, 1937

SPOKEN DIALOGUE:
—Oh, dear, dear, dear, dear! Oh, mister stage manager, please, I can't sing tonight!
—You can't sing tonight?
—No, I'm terribly sorry. I can't sing tonight.
—You must sing tonight! Your public's waiting!
—Oh, blow the public! It's impossible! I can't sing. I can't explain. I'm sorry.
—Go out an' knock 'em cold, baby. The show must go on!
—Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I can't!

SOPRANO, SINGING:
"Ring down the curtain. I can't sing tonight. Their money back you'll have to pay.
Ring down the curtain. I can't sing tonight. They've taken me false teeth away."

The theatre was packed from the pit to the stalls. The show was about to begin.
The baritone villain stood there in the wings. On his face was a dastardly grin.
The tenor had just finished padding his chest and was gracefully waving his hair.
The overture started. The curtain went up, when the heroine cried in despair:

"Oh, ring down the curtain! I can't sing tonight! Oh, dash it! I wish I was dead!
I can't sing tonight with me tonsils in sight. I haven't a tooth in me head!"

The manager said that the show must go on. He was in a terrible rage.
The baritone gave the soprano a push that shot her headfirst on the stage.
"You can't," cried the tenor. "Strike one your own size!" then leaped on the stage amid cheers.
He said, "What's the do?" because was his cue, and the heroine cried through her tears:

"Oh, ring down the curtain! I can't sing tonight!" She stood there and twiddled her thumbs.
The villain said, "Gnash me!" She said, "No, I can't! I can't gnash with only me gums!"

The heroine swooned on a velvet settee, but jumped up again with an "Ouch!"
Which rapidly turned to a cry of delight, for there were her teeth on the couch!
The lovers embraced as she slipped in her teeth. She turned with a smile on her face.
She opened her throat and let out a note that smashed ev'ry glass in the place.

(OPERATIC GIBBERISH FOLLOWED BY THE SOUND OF BREAKING GLASS.)

MALE CHORUS:
"Ring down the curtain. You can't sing tonight, or else you'll be put on the spot.
Some voices we've heard were a pain in the neck, but yours is the worst of the lot."

SOPRANO:
"Oh, ring up the curtain! I will sing tonight, in spite of your laughter and jeers.
If you're so upset by my beautiful voice, then put cotton wool in your ears!"

(SHRILL OPERATIC GIBBERISH FOLLOWED BY THE SOUND OF A GUNSHOT.)

MALE CHORUS: "You can't sing tonight."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Down the Curtain (I Can't Sing...)
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Apr 12 - 06:40 AM

linda
Thank you for all of this everyone. My Mother (aged 100 now) has been quoting some of the original lines to me and asking me where it comes from. She does this frequently with songs and lines from poems and the internet is wonderful for "tracking" them. I usually try and print off in large print for her, too. What a sad origin to the song, though, and how tantalizing that no one has yet found the last verse to the original version. By the way, I imagine the reason my Mother remembers a little of this is that her Father was Welsh/Anglo (but his family moved to London from Breacon when he was young). He was a good singer and they used to all have musical family evenings with other relatives. In fact, my Great Aunt on my Mother's side used to emulate Gracie Fiels' style I believe. I thought it was interesting though that my Mother quotes the original verse about the dying child. So someone must have been singing the original version when my Mother was young. I used to have duets with my Welsh/Anglo Grandfather, too, but cannot find the exact version of that particular song. Many thanks again.


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