“Industry boom in America. Twelve in a room in America. Lots of new housing with more space. Lots of doors slamming in our face,” they sing in West Side Story (1961.) Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose?
We’ve got all the lyrics, too:
My heart’s devotion–
Let it sink back in the ocean.
Always the hurricanes blowing,
Always the population growing,
And the money owing.
And the sunlight streaming,
And the natives steaming.
I like the island Manhattan,
Smoke on your pipe and put that in.
I like to be in America,
Okay by me in America,
Everything free in America -
For a small fee in America.
Buying on credit is so nice.
One look at us and they charge twice.
I’ll have my own washing machine.
What will you have, though, to keep clean?
Skyscrapers bloom in America.
Cadillacs zoom in America.
Industry boom in America.
Twelve in a room in America.
Lots of new housing with more space.
Lots of doors slamming in our face.
I’ll get a terrace apartment.
Better get rid of your accent.
ANITA AND THREE GIRLS
Life can be bright in America.
If you can fight in America.
Life is all right in America.
If you’re all white in America.
(an interlude of WHISTLING and DANCING)
ANITA AND CONSUELO
Here you are free and you have pride.
Long as you stay on your own side.
Free to be anything you choose.
Free to wait tables and shine shoes.
Everywhere grime in America,
Organized crime in America,
Terrible time in America.
You forget I’m in America.
(An interlude of MORE DANCING)
I think I go back to San Juan
I know a boat you can get on.
Everyone there will give big cheer.
Everyone there will have moved here.
Music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
© 1956, 1957 Amberson Holdings LLC and Stephen Sondheim. Copyright renewed.
Leonard Bernstein Music Publishing Company LLC, Publisher.