Friday, January 01, 2010 1/1/10 - simply love her

12/28/09 to 1/1/10: The
Week of

And for the final encore entry in our week of
love, and to ring in the new year - one of our favorite
excerpts from the dazzlingly talented Alan Jay Lerner,
partner and co-writer with Frederick Loewe of
Camelot, My Fair Lady, Gigi and other plays. Here he
explains the painfully poignant lyrics of the Camelot
song "How To Handle a Woman," sung by King Arthur
at a point when he is tragically both lost and losing
Guinevere to Lancelot:

"By the middle of the first act, Guinevere has met
Lancelot and has begun behaving in a manner that is
to Arthur both perplexing and maddening. Alone on
stage, he musically soliloquizes his confusion and out
of desperation resolves it for himself in an
uncomplicated reaffirmation of love in a song
called 'How to Handle a Woman.' I had had that idea
for two or three years, but I cannot claim sole
inspiration for it. My silent partner was Erich Maria
Remarque [author of All Quiet on the Western

"He had just married an old friend of mine, Paulette
Goddard, all woman, magnificently distributed, as
feminine as she is female. One night when we were
having dinner, I said to Erich (not seriously): 'How do
you get along with this wild woman?' He
replied: 'Beautifully. There is never an
argument.' 'Never an argument?' I asked
incredulously. 'Never,' he replied. 'We will have an
appointment one evening, and she charges into the
room crying, 'Why aren't you ready? You always keep
me waiting. Why do you ...?!' I look at her with
astonishment and say, 'Paulette! Who did your hair?
It's absolutely ravishing.' She says, 'Really? Do you
really like it?' 'Like it?' I reply. 'You're a vision. Let me
see the back.' By the time she has made a pirouette
her fury is forgotten. Another time she turns on me in
rage about something, and before a sentence is out of
her mouth I stare at her and say breathlessly, 'My God!
You're incredible. You get younger every day.' She
says, 'Really, darling?' 'Tonight,' I say, 'you look
eighteen years old.' And that is the end of her rage.' I
was as amused as I was admiring and I said to
him: 'Erich, one day I will have to write a song about
that.' The song was 'How to Handle a Woman' which

The way to handle a woman is to love her,

Simply love her; merely love her,

Love her, love her."

Alan Jay Lerner, The Street Where I Live, Da
Capo Press, 1978, pp. 193-4.


Post a Comment

<< Home