Pins and Needles – 1962
Harold Rome on Pins and Needles
Twenty-five years [since 1937]? I don’t believe it! But it really is that long ago since the amateur revue done as part of the extracurricular activities of the members of the ILGWU, intended to be played for only a few weekends, turned into Pins and Needles, my first-born Broadway show. And ran for four years!
I have a special affection for Pins and Needles (one always does for the first born) because, among other reasons, it was such a pleasant, completely unexpected surprise – even better than the one time I filled a straight flush. In addition to using my songs, the ILGWU hired me as rehearsal pianist. We rehearsed for over a year at Labor Stage, three evenings a week, getting the cast ready. (After all, the cast had other jobs to do during the day – sewing, cutting, pushing trucks, etc.) Then, lo and behold! Overnight the amateur pumpkin turned into a golden Broadway coach, and the rehearsal pianist into a Broadway Theatre Man. Of course the sudden success carried a price with it, but that’s a story for the autobiography I’ll never write.
All this happened in the pre-album days. Although one song, “Sunday in the Park,” made the Hit Parade, the others suffered almost complete neglect. “Social Significance” in those days was not for our airwaves. So, it is with special pleasure that I greet this album.
There were four editions of Pins and Needles, each one with a few numbers changed or added to keep step with the changing times. This recording is a compendium of the best.
I played one of the two pianos in the original show, and here I am now, singing some songs in this re-creation, one of which happens to be my children’s favorite bedtime song, “Mene, Mene, Tekel.”
This is probably the longest album in preparation in history – twenty-five years!
– Harold Rome,1962
The critic Heywood Broun wrote of Pins and Needles: “Although the various numbers depend upon no central plot, there is a coherent idea that holds the entertainment together. The object is mockery. The smug and conservative are held up to ridicule as persons blind to the nature of the world in which they live. Although the raillery is sharp and pointed, the wounds inflicted are not painful since the weapons are anaesthetized with humor. … The piece is not revolutionary in its temper, and while stout ladies in ermine must realize that they are being kidded, few if any have rushed screaming into the night. No dowager has been observed standing on a street corner waiting for a tumbril.”
Barbra Streisand Rose Marie Jun Jack Carroll Harold Rome Alan Sokoloff Music and Lyrics by Harold Rome Musical Direction by Stan Freeman Vocal arrangements by Elise Bretton, A.F.T.R.A. Piano: Stan Freeman, Local 802, A.F.M. Guitar: Allan Hanlon, Local 802, A.F.M. Bass: Dick Romoff, Local 802, A.F.M. Drums: Al Rogers, Local 802, A.F.M.