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Why Must The Show Go On

This song is by Noël Coward and appears on the live album In New York (1959).

The world for some years
Has been sodden with tears
On behalf of the acting profession.
Each star playing a part
Seems to expect a Purple Heart.
It's unorthodox to be born in a box,
But it needn't become an obsession.
Let's hope we have no worse to plague us
Than two shows a night in Las Vegas.
When I think of physicians and mathematicians
Who don't earn a quarter the dough,
When I look at the faces
Of people in Macy's,
There's one thing I'm burning to know:

Why must the show go on?
It can't be all that indispensable.
To me, it really isn't sensible on the whole,
To play a leading role,
While fighting those tears you can't control.
Why kick up your legs
When draining the dregs
Of sorrow's bitter cup?
Because you have read
Some idiot has said
'The curtain must stay up!'
I'd like to know
Why a star takes bows,
Having just returned from burying her spouse.
Brave boop-a-doopers,
Go home and dry your tears.
Gallant old troopers,
You've bored us all for years.
And if you're so blue,
Wet through
And thoroughly woe-begone,
Why must the show go on?
Oh, mammy,
Why must the show go on?

We're asked to condole
With each tremulous soul
Who steps out to be loudly applauded.
Stars on opening nights
Weep when they see their names in lights.
Though people who act,
As a matter of fact,
Are, financially, amply rewarded,
It seems, when pursuing their calling,
Their suffering's simply appalling.
But butchers, and bakers, and candlestick makers
Get little applause for their pains.
When I think of miners
And waiters in diners,
The query forever remains:

Why must the show go on?
The rule
Is surely not immutable.
It ... It might be wiser,
And more suitable,
Just to close,
If you are in the throes
Of personal grief and private woes.
Why stifle a sob when doing your job
When, if you'd use your head,
You'd go out and grab
A comfortable cab,
And go right home to bed?
Because you're not
Giving us much fun.
This 'Laugh, Clown, Laugh' routine's been overdone.
Hats off to showfolks,
For smiling when they're blue,
But more comme il faut folks
Are sick of smiling through.
And if you're out cold,
Too old,
And most of your teeth have gone,
Why must the show go on?
I sometimes wonder,
Why must the show go on?

Why must the show go on?
Now, why not announce the closing night of it?
The public seem to hate the sight of it, dear,
And so,
Why you should undergo
This terrible strain,
We'll never know.
We know that you're sad,
We know that you've had
A lot of storm and strife,
But is it quite fair
To ask us to share
Your dreary private life?
We know you're trapped in a gilded cage,
But for heaven's sake,
Relax and be your age.
Stop being gallant,
And don't be such a bore.
Pack up your talent,
There's always plenty more.
And if you lose hope,
Take dope,
And lock yourself in the John,
Why must the show go on?
I'm merely asking,
Why must the show
Go on?

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