trkl017aBig Spender
Music written by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Recorded: September 12, 1967.

UK: Sep ’67 on United Artists sgl UP 1192
US: Oct 31 ’67 on UA sgl UA 50229
charted: single UK: #21, October 11, 1967
Released in 1967 on the album And We Were Lovers. Re-recorded by Shirley Bassey in the same year and released on a single and this one reached position No. 21 in December 1967 in the British charts. On the US and Spain issue of the album And We Were Lovers there is a different recording arranged and directed by Ernest Freeman. In England and other countries the version was arranged by Alyn Ainsworth and this is the version that you get on all the re-releases. Another studio version was released 1984 on the album I Am What I Am with the London Symphony Orchestra. From the sixties to this day “Big Spender” is an essential part of every live concert, so this song is available on many live recordings, and also on the videos. At some recent concerts she did this number even twice consecutively.

A remix of the original version, done by “Wild Oscar”, has been released in September 2000 on ‘The Remix Album…Diamonds Are Forever’ and by NorthXNWest in 2007 on ‘Get The Party Started.’

The song is taken from the musical “Sweet Charity”. The premiere of this musical was on Saturday, January 29th, 1966 in the Palace Theatre, New York and was a big hit with 608 performances. The director was Bob Fosse and his wife Gwen Verdon was the singing star of the musical on Broadway. The story is loosely based on Federico Fellini’s film “Nights Of Cabiria”, about a sweet-hearted Italian prostitute. It tells the story of an eternally hopeful but repeatedly disappointed dance club hostess. “Sweet Charity” was nominated for a Tony Award in two categories.

Cy Coleman (born 1929 in New York), who was the composer of the music for the musical “Sweet Charity”, began already at the age of six with his career when he had a recital at Steinway Hall. He was playing Manhattan super clubs at 17. Coleman began to attract attention with two hit singles he wrote done by Frank Sinatra in the ’50s: “Try to Change Me Now” and “Witchcraft.” He also penned “Firefly” for Tony Bennett in 1958. Other successful musicals he did have been “Wildcraft”, “Little Me” and “Seesaw.” From the last one comes Shirley’s song Nobody Does It Like Me. Coleman also had songs featured in films, covered by Barbra Streisand and many others. Other hit songs for Cy Coleman from the musical “Sweet Charity” have been “Where Am I Going?,” which was recorded by Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett hit the charts with “Baby, Dream Your Dream,” and Sylvia Syms with “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This.” And the song that was best-known from “Sweet Charity” was “If My Friends Could See Me Now.”

The Oscar winning American pop lyricist Dorothy Fields (born 1905 in New Jersey) was the first woman to be elected into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, in recognition of her long and successful career of hit songs, movie scores and Broadway scores that spanned the late 1920s through the early 1970s. Fields most popular songs include “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” in 1928 (for which she worked together with Jimmy McHugh), “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” in 1930, “I’m In The Mood For Love” in 1935 and “The Way You Look Tonight” 1936, which gained her an Oscar. The musical “Redhead” in 1959 for which she had written the lyrics, received a Tony Award and a Grammy.

In 1945 Fields had the idea for the musical “Annie Get Your Gun” starring Ethel Merman. Jerome Kern agreed to write the music, but died before he was able to start the score. Finally Irving Berlin was hired for the score, while Dorothy and her brother Herbert wrote the book. The show, which opened in May 1946, was a sensational smash hit. Dorothy Fields died of a heart attack in 1974.

In 1969 the musical “Sweet Charity” came into cinema with Shirley MacLaine as Charity Hope Valentine and John McMartin as Oscar and featuring Sammy Davis Junior. The complete movie title was “Sweet Charity: The Adventures of a Girl Who Wanted to Be Loved”. The character was changed to an American taxi dancer. Here a plot summary found on the internet: Taxi dancer Charity continues to have Faith in the human race despite apparently endless disappointments at its hands, and Hope that she will finally meet the nice young man to romance her away from her sleazy life. Maybe, just maybe, handsome Oscar will be the one to do it.

“Big Spender” was also a hit in the easy listening charts for Peggy Lee. Freddie Mercury has performed this song too and many others.

“Big Spender” with Shirley Bassey was part of the soundtrack of the film “Little Voice” 1998 and is available on the soundtrack CD.

In the OK! magazine interview Shirley Bassey stated that this song is one of her favourites among her own songs. Her other favourite is Kiss Me, Honey, Honey, Kiss Me. She said: “I never tire of them because they’re fun numbers in which audiences join in.”


1967 B








Big Spender ( The UK version)

Big Spender (The USA version)


The minute you walked in the joint
I could see you were a man of distinction, a real big spender
Good looking, so refined
Say, wouldn’t you like to know what’s going on in my mind?
So let me get right to the point
I don’t pop my cork for every man I see
Hey big spender!
Spend a little time with me

Wouldn’t you like to have fun, fun, fun?
How’s about a few laughs, laughs?
I could show you a good time
Let me show you a good time

The minute you walked in the joint
I could see you were a man of distinction, a real big spender
Good looking, so refined
Say, wouldn’t you like to know what’s going on in my mind?
So let me get right to the point
I don’t pop my cork for every man I see
Hey big spender!
Hey big spender!
Hey big spender!
Spend a little time with me

(Transcribed by Roman)

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