windows and doors (was: William Safire)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 20 06:35:03 UTC 2000

At 12:31 PM -0500 12/20/00, GEORGE THOMPSON wrote:
>We have been batting this one around lately:
>Me:  I saw The Sound of Music when it played Boston in tryout, before
>it went to Broadway, and not since.  (I have gone on the "Sound of
>Music" tour in Vienna, because it somehow seemed like a good idea at
>the time.)  So I don't remember the phrase.  Is it meant to be
>cynical: If the Good Lord closes a door, he opens a window for you to
>jump out of, and puts it at a sufficient height to serve the purpose?
Um, no.  The Sound of Music is an irony-free zone.  I just went
poking around the web and found a number of versions of our
insta-proverb, generally either citing "The Sound of Music" or with
no attribution. I know it does occur in the movie of S/M but may not
have appeared in the "legitimate" Broadway version.

One web site, something called "The 21st Century Brain Hunt"
( begins
with the observation:

"I'm sure most of you have seen 'Sound of the Music'. But I'm not
sure if you remember
this. Maria used to say this to herself. "When the Lord closes a
door, somewhere he
opens a window." This can be applied to a science, too."  (and goes
on...and on...from there)

There's also a song by the immortal Kinky Friedman and the Texas
Jewboys, "When the Lord Closes the Door (He Opens a Little Window)".
OK, so it's not as memorable as the Kinkstah's "They Ain't Makin'
Jews Like Jesus Anymore", but it's a nice little ditty, and whether
it pre- or postdates Maria's observation I have no idea.  A recorded
remake on a recent tribute album received mixed reviews, though:
"Anche Billy Swan , pure lui un ex Texas Jewboys, reinterpreta When
The Lord Closes The Door (He Opens a Little Window): ma la sua
versione รจ troppo pulita e priva di guizzi."   There are "about
37,500" hits on "closes door opens window", most of them
evidently relevant, but I haven't looked at them all.


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