The Song: Don't Cry For Me Argentina

"Don't Cry For Me Argentina" is the first in our new series entitled; "The Song." Where I will take a beloved song and do the entire evolution of it. It will be very interesting for not just you as the reader but taking myself on a lovely journey finding out things that otherwise would have not known. Already, I can easily say this song and doing research has already given me some education on the background such as it being banned in an entire country and just how many dives and other noteworthy artists have covered this world renowned ballad.

The songs origins:
The song was originally written by the famed duo Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice for what was to be released first for a production via an album. Webber and Rice previously conducted their writing arrangement this way where a score would be written and first released as an album (perhaps as a good test in the markets). The duo did this process previously with "Jesus Chris Superstar" and it worked moving from a studio recording of the entire score which got a lot of buzz to then a full blown theater production. On the original recording this track itself was recorded by actress and singer Julie Covington. Julie was the very first person to give this song life and play the role as Eva on the original album recording (prior to going to stage). The first single from Evita was this song.

The inspiration:
María Eva Duarte de Perón who lived from 1919 to 1952 is the inspiration as the lead character in the musical "Evita" and who sings passionately the ballad "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" to her beloved people.  Eva was the second wife to the Argentine President Juan Perón.  The production and music takes one on a journey from when she is growing up poor to her rise to fame with becoming an actress and being on the radio to becoming the First Lady of Argentina from 1946-1952. Eva during those last few years became the most powerful woman of her country who was known world wide. We see Eva embarking on a "Rainbow Tour" of Europe meeting Francisco Franco and Pope Pius XII for a goodwill visit. In the production of Evita this is told by song via "Rainbow High."

"Evita" the original recording +  theatrical production + divas taking on title role = success

In 1976, the very first actress/singer to record "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" was Julie Covington. Julie recorded this track for Webber/Rice prior to the stage production. Julie version released did very well and peaked for a week at #1 in the UK Singles Chart in 1977. It went to sell as a single roughly a million copies in the United Kingdom.

Julie Covington was offered to take her successful album recordings and translate it to the theatrical production of Evita. Julie however passed on playing the role which then went to the great Elaine Paige out of many hopefuls. Elaine Paige was the very first actress to premier the role on stage which was done on the Great White Way (London) at the Prince Edward Theatre 1978 and also went to record the original London production album. This song appears in the theatrical production during the second act while the famed Eva Peron is addressing the crowed from the beautiful balcony of the Casa Rosada. The UK production ran from 1978 to 1986 with over three thousand performances. Elaine received for her role "The Society of West End Theatre Award" as Best Performer of the Year in a Musical for 1978.

Then it was time after the huge success in London for the show itself to hit Broadway! Originally, Webb/Rice wanted Elaine Paige to continue her successful role as Eva in New York City but the Actors' Equity Association, refused permission for a non-American. This is where actress Patti LuPone entered into the scene. The director being Harold Prince championed for Paige who he tried yet for a second time when LuPone was suffering vocal problems near the opening and still got turned down. Needless to say the relationship between Prince and LuPone was very rocky to say the least. The production ran from 1979 to 1983 with over fifteen hundred performances. There were a total of seven actress's that did the role of Eva during the long run on Broadway. Patti LuPone received two outstanding awards for her role: "Drama Desk Award" (1980) for Outstanding Actress in a Musical & a "Tony Award" (1980) for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical.

One other lovely actress that were amongst the seven with LuPone was Loni Ackerman. Loni Ackerman had a very successful run as Eva on Broadway as part of the rotational of actress during it's long run. Loni also took the production being in the title role to a two year run in Los Angeles.

Loni Ackerman

Several productions in the United States, UK and around the world were done since the original. A few examples of how "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" continued to live on with different actresses as vessels for it were a UK 20th Anniversary in 2006 (which went from 2006 - 2007). This time with Elena Roger as the very first Argentine actress to play Eva in an English language production. Elena received an Olivier Award nomination for her performance.

Elena Roger reprised her role in the Broadway revival of the 2006 West End production of Evita.
The show ran from 2012 to 2013 with over three hundred performances. Elena received a nomination for Tony Award for her role.

Motion Picture of "Evita" starring Madonna

Several years earlier than the 1996 motion picture release was there already talk of a motion picture of Evita. Shortly after the production was out in the UK and the United States there was talk of a motion picture to be done with talk of Barbra Streisand, Lizza Minnelli, Elaine Paige, and Karla DeVito (who was successful with touring with people like Meatloaf, acting on Brodway, and at the time released her first solo album). Though none of these attempts even the final decision of Elaine Paige doing two screen tests unfortunately did not materialize into a film.

We then fast forward where the film Evita finally came to life with director Alan Parker and choosing Madonna as his lead. Madonna in the 1996 motion picture received mixed reviews though did obtain a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. The film also won one Academy Award for Best Original Song which was "You Must Love Me." This song in my opinion was a beautiful addition to the production which in later years via the revivals would add this song where it was never before.

As one can see the evolution of this song has lasted from its original recording in 1976 and release in 1977 to the theatrical productions in 1978 (UK) and 1979 (USA) and many more to this date. A song that has held up lovely against time never being dated and now lives on globally. Eva pleads with her millions of adored people of Argentina to not cry for her whether it was her illness and as she chronicles her life from a poor childhood and her pure power and ambition into being the most famous lady in the country. She steps away from the spotlight and wants to let her people know that to fear not for her but know she loves them.

It won't be easy/You'll think it strange / When I try to explain how I feel / That I still need your love/
After all that I've done / You won't believe me / All you will see is a girl you once knew/Although she's dressd up to the nines /At sixes and sevens with you/ I had to let it happen /I had to change /Couldn't stay all my life down at heel/ Looking out of the window/ Staying out of the sun /So I chose freedom/
Running around trying everything new /But nothing impressed me at all I never expected it too/Don't cry for me Argentina /The truth is I never left you /All through my wild days /My mad existence/ I kept my promise /Don't keep your distance /And as for fortune and as for fame /I never invited them in /Though it seemed to the world /They were all I desired /They are illusions /They're not the solutions/They promise to be /The answer was here all the time /I love you and hope you love me/ Don't cry for me Argentina /Don't cry for me Argentina /The truth is I never left you All through my wild days/My mad existence I kept my promise /Don't keep your distance /Have I said to much? There's nothing more I can think of to say to you/ But all you have to do Is look at me to know /That every word is true

Countries Banning of the Song:
The United Kingdom in the early 1980's banned the song (the Covington recording) being played on the BBC.

The Philippines also banned the song for the entire country during the reign of President Ferdinand Marcos which was during 1972 - 1986.  The rationale was that his wife Imelda Marcos and her life mirrored very much Evita Peron's.

The track gets covered by everyone!

  • Olivia Newton-John (1977, on her album Making a Good Thing Better)
  • The Carpenters (1977, on their album Passage)
  • Shirley Bassey (1978, album The Magic Is You & 1993 album Sings the Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber)
  • Tom Jones (1979, album "Rescue Me")
  • Joan Baez (1980)
  • Donna Summer (1981)
  • Sinéad O'Connor (1992, on her album Am I Not Your Girl)
  • Sarah Brightman (1996)
  • Judy Collins (1999, on her album Classic Broadway)
  • Tina Arena (2003)
  • Idina Menzel (2008 at Andrew Lloyd Webber's 60th Birthday Concert in London's Hyde Park)
  • Lea Michele & Chris Colfer (2010 for the TV series Glee)
  • Nicole Scherzinger (2013) Andrew Lloyd Webber ITV1 40th anniversary special


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