"Ribbons Down By Back"-When Subtlety Suits the Material
Hello, Dolly! is full of so many big, splashy numbers chock full of opportunities for high-kicking dance and reprise after reprise. "Ribbons Down My Back" is one of the few quiet, contemplative moments in the score and it is a gem of perfection among musical theatre torch songs. A lonely owner of a millinery shop, a young widow, dreams she might find love again and longingly shares her wish that the ribbons adorning her hat will be stirred up by a breeze and capture a gentleman's eye. It's a very short piece, but in its 2 1/2 minute length, manages to tell us everything we need to know about this character. Jerry Herman has designed a reflective, almost melancholy melody that seems positioned to explode with her adventure to come, then wisely retreats into an understated, hopeful gentleness that reflects the "stillness of July" that her life has become.