This is the other ballad from Damn Yankees that didn’t make it into the movie version, and it has significantly more defenders than “A Man Doesn’t Know”. Said defenders like to point out the undeniable fact that the situation that provides its setup is so poignant that it almost couldn’t help but be moving. For those who don’t know this show, in this scene Joe (as his younger, enchanted self) is talking to his wife and assuring her than her beloved husband (whom she has no idea is exactly who she’s talking to) will return to her soon. In short, we have the emotional torment of a man trying to comfort the woman he loves but unable to even tell her that it’s him she’s speaking to, as well as the sad irony of a woman pining for her lost love while unaware that he is right there in the room with her.
The song’s detractors argue that despite the goldmine of a scenario, the actual song itself is dull and dreary, but I blame most of that impression on Stephen Douglas’ lack of acting ability; the man certainly had a strong baritone, but he was so wooden as a performer that he made Nelson Eddy look like Carol Channing.
The song is actually fairly intense as a composition, with its passionate tango melody and vivid lyrics. That said, the 1994 revival unwisely moved it into an entirely different context in the show, and it did lose a lot by doing so. But the debate seems almost irrelevant—apart from that one revival (which is generally considered a misguided mess today anyway), the context is part of the song, and you can’t really judge the composition as some kind of pure aesthetic principle independent of its dramatic situation in the musical…that’s not how show tunes work.
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