Before on this blog, I have commented how troubling I found the lyrics that Stephen Sondheim wrote to “America” for the stage version of West Side Story.  I was reminded of this when I was watching the his birthday concert for the hundredth time yesterday. (It’s comfort food.)

The lyrics paint a grim picture of Puerto Rico, while glorifying the mainland American experience.  I always feel uncomfortable, as though I am listening to a cleverly written but no less objectionable ethnic joke. (I always thought the best part of the piece was Jerome Robbins’ explosive choreography.)

Then I read the lyric Sondheim wrote for the movie version.  It is sharp, pointed, and gives voice to the frustrations of people looking to find a better life, who facing slamming doors and limited opportunities, contrasted against the hope and optimism of those who are excited and happy about their home.

I love it.

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