Harold Rome, I Can Get It for You Wholesale, 1962
When I was a young admirer of Broadway musical theater, I also had a paper route, a requirement by my parents to help me pay for college. But after I’d pay the proper newspaper fees, I would somedays run off to the local record store to spend a couple of my earned dollars on a Broadway cast recording. It’s hard to make people understand my compulsion today, particularly given the fact that we did not own a proper record player on which to play the recordings I was regularly bringing home. I simply had to have them, those that I loved, and, along with the books of some of the those musicals, which my parents did allow to buy, I simply had to have them around me as if these books and recordings were some sort of totem to which I might quietly pray.
I still recall today, asking to hear the record from the 1962 musical, with music and lyrics by Harold Rome, I Can Get It for You Wholesale. I’d never read the original, based on a novel by Jerome Weidman, who also wrote the musical’s book, so I had utterly no idea about the story about an unscrupulous business man in the 1930s New York City garment district. I don’t even suppose I might have known what the “garment district” was, and I certainly didn’t know anything about its long history, nor about Rome’s involvement with the Ladies' Garment Workers' Union show Pins and Needles, long before my own infatuation with musical theater.
The marvelous song is all Streisand’s, she owns it, and it allowed her a bigger presence in the musical than even her later husband, Elliott Gould, and the numerous other talented cast members. It was Streisand who made the cover of Life magaine. Even then, the feisty young 19-year old complained, in a backstage interview, that the show had completely upended her life, taking away all of night life and forcing her to the theater at an early hour each day! The musical, which lasted 300 performances, was not one of David Merrick’s hits, but for Streisand…as we know, it was only the beginning.