Rhapsody on a Windy Night

Rhapsody on a Windy Night “Memory” from the Musical “Cats”

Rhapsody on a Windy Night” was adapted into the song “Memory” for the musical Cats in 1981. Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the music and Trevor Nunn wrote the lyrics, just two weeks before the play opened in the West End theater district in London.

Cats was an adaptation of the T.S. Eliot book for children “Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.” Grizabella the "Glamour Cat” sings “Memory” at the climax of the musical. T.S. Eliot originally wrote Grizabella as a character to be included in “Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats,” but left her story out as “too sad for children.” When T.S. Eliot’s widow Valerie Eliot visited the premiere concert of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s settings of the "Old Possum" poems in 1980, she gave him a paper with a fragment of Eliot’s poem about Grizabella. By combining this with “Rhapsody on a Windy Night” and the poem “Preludes,” Nunn and Webber created the main character for the show, and the song “Memory.”

Here are the lyrics from “Memory” to compare with “Rhapsody on a Windy Night”:


Not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory?
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight, the withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan
All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again
Every streetlamp seems to beat a fatalistic warning
Someone mutters, and a streetlamp gutters,
And soon it will be morning.
I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn't give in.
When the dawn comes, tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin
Burnt out ends of smokey days
The stale cold smell of morning
The streetlamp dies, another night is over
Another day is dawning...
Touch me!
It's so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun...
If you touch me, you'll understand what happiness is
Look, a new day
Has begun