Everything's Coming Up Roses

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"Everything's Coming Up Roses" is a song from the 1959 Broadway musical Gypsy, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and music by Jule Styne. Introduced in the musical's inaugural production by Ethel Merman, "Everything's Coming Up Roses" became one of Merman's signature songs.

Lyrics for Betwixt & Between
I'm betwixt and between
Have to make my mind up which way to lean
Shall I stop? Shall I go?
I simply must make my mind up!
I'm between and betwixt
Running in a race someone has fixed
Is it to? Is it fro?
I wish I knew how I'll wind up!

According to Sammy Cahn, the song had its genesis in the 1947 musical High Button Shoes, for which he was the lyricist. Cahn wrote lyrics for a song entitled Betwixt and Between to be sung by a female character who can't decide between two men.

Jule Styne, who was that musical's composer, wrote music for it, but the director decided the song didn't fit well into the show and removed it. When composing Gypsy, Styne decided to re-use the music for what became "Everything's Coming Up Roses", with new lyrics by Sondheim. It took Sondheim a week to come up with the title, the lyricist recalling: "The point was to [coin] a phrase that sounded as if it had been in the language for years but was in fact invented for the show." (The similar phrase, "come up smelling like a rose" has in fact been in general usage since the early 20th century.) The show's director Jerome Robbins's response to Sondheim's lyric was: "Everything's coming up Rose's what?" prompting Sondheim's assurance that "if anybody else has that confusion - anybody connected with the production, in the audience, any of your relatives - I will change the title."[1]

"Everything's Coming Up Roses" is performed at the end of the first act of Gypsy by stage mother Rose, who has just learned her daughter June has eloped and in effect left the vaudeville act Rose has devoted her life to without a star. Rose's response is to make her other daughter Louise the object of her dubious star-making abilities. The title "Everything's Coming Up Roses" is a pun: Besides "roses" representing happiness, the title is referencing the possessive "Rose's" as in Rose's way or "Rose" as in Rose becoming a star herself, through her daughter.[citation needed]

Ethel Merman biographer Brian Kellow notes that while objectively "Everything's Coming Up Roses" seems "a big, brassy paean to the power of positive thinking...done in the old, electric Merman style", within the context of the show "the song becomes a chilling illustration of blind ambition mixed with megalomania". Kellow quotes Stephen Sondheim to the effect that while Merman's comedic prowess was "nonpareil" as showcased in Gypsy's first act she lacked the dramatic precision to be fully effective as the play grew darker; thus, Sondheim says of "Everything's Coming Up Roses": "I wrote a song of the type that [Merman] had sung all her life, like [the Anything Goes number] 'Blow, Gabriel, Blow', which only requires a trumpet-voiced affirmation." However Sondheim adds that Merman performed the song with an "intensity [which] came as a surprise."[2]

The emergence of "Everything's Coming Up Roses" as a Broadway anthem was evidenced by the song's melody being used to open and close the 14th Tony Awards ceremony held April 24, 1960 (ironically Gypsy took none of its eight Tony nominations).[3]

In 1974, Ethel Merman appeared in a television advertisement singing new lyrics to the tune of "Everything's Coming Up Roses" to promote the Colgate-Palmolive dishwashing liquid Vel. That same year Merman recorded "Everything's Coming Up Roses" for her album Merman Sings Merman recorded with Stanley Black & the London Festival Orchestra. In 1979, Merman again recorded the song for her album Ethel Merman Disco Album. In her final film appearance, a cameo in the 1980 film Airplane! as shell-shocked soldier Lieutenant Hurwitz who believes he is Ethel Merman, Merman sings a few bars of "Everything's Coming Up Roses".

Other versions of "Everything's Coming Up Roses" include:

In popular culture[edit]

  • Jack Paar used an instrumental version of this song as a personal theme of his. It served as the theme to The Tonight Show during the time that he hosted that show, as well as for his eponymous weekly prime time series that followed his tenure on Tonight.
  • Merman sang an excerpt of the song in the 1980 film Airplane!. Merman portrayed Lt. Hurwitz, a soldier suffering from shell shock, believing he was Ethel Merman.
  • A 1986 Welsh movie was titled Coming Up Roses.
  • In the 1991 film The Fisher King, Michael Jeter sings an altered version titled "Everything's Coming Up Videos".
  • The tune has been used by Paul Shaffer in his duties as bandleader for David Letterman, possibly as an homage to Paar, who was one of Letterman's influences.
  • The song is used in the 1997 film A Simple Wish.
  • On Family Guy, Peter's song “I’m Gonna Make You Famous” is a parody of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from Gypsy.
  • The character Stuart Smalley listens to the song while jogging through the park in the film Stuart Saves His Family.
  • This song was featured in the end of the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode "Ben's Birthday".
  • In The Simpsons, three times:
    • In season 9 episode 20, "The Trouble with Trillions", Waylon Smithers, Jr. is singing the song when Homer and Mr. Burns arrive to enlist his assistance in smuggling themselves and their fugitive trillion-dollar bill into Cuba. Eventually Fidel Castro steals it from them, and they end up adrift on a raft, rueing their crime but with Mr. Burns promising to "bribe a jury" to ensure that they face no consequences for their bout of treason.
    • In season 10 episode 19, "Mom and Pop Art", when Homer has flooded Springfield, Milhouse Van Houten wears flood pants and is pleased to see that the cuffs of his pants have stayed dry. Upon noticing this, he says "Everything's coming up Milhouse!" parodying the song title.
    • In Treehouse of Horror XXVI segment "Telepaths of Glory", Milhouse Van Houten has gone mad with power due to the radiation he and Lisa Simpson have been exposed to, and he declares "Everything's coming up Milhouse!" again, moments before he gets struck by the power of lightning unleashed by Maggie Simpson (who has also been exposed to radiation from the plutonium rod she had found moments earlier). This is a reference to both the song and Milhouse's earlier declaration.
  • A 1971 album by Jack Wild was titled Everything's Coming Up Roses taking its title from the track (Holy Moses!) Everything's Coming Up Roses which is a Biddu composition.
  • Rosemary Clooney had a 1977 album release titled Everything's Coming Up Rosie. (Clooney had recorded "Everything's Coming Up Roses" as "Everything's Coming Up Rosie" for her 1960 album Clap Hands! Here Comes Rosie! but her Everything's Coming Up Rosie album does not feature any version of "Everything's Coming Up Roses".)
  • In the 1981 film Escape From New York, Snake Plissken encounters a group of prisoners in a Manhattan theater singing a song called "Everyone's Coming to New York," which is set to the tune of "Everything's Coming Up Roses" and features lyrics about being sent to the island prison for various violent crimes.
  • Stevie Wonder used the title "Everything's Coming Up Roses" for a composition which Eddie Murphy introduced on his 1985 album How Could It Be.
  • The title "Everything's Coming Up Roses" has been used by composer Colin Vearncombe: Vearncombe's composition was introduced on the 1987 album Wonderful Life by Black, Black being Vearncombe's pseudonym as a singer. This song was recorded by Lyriel, whose version is featured on the extended edition of their 2012 album Leverage.[5]
  • Elliott Smith introduced his own composition "Coming Up Roses" on his 1995 self-titled album; another song titled "Coming Up Roses" was recorded by Curve for their 1998 album Come Clean.
  • The 2013 musical comedy Begin Again included a song "Coming Up Roses" performed by Keira Knightley.
  • The 2014 movie The Fault in Our Stars included the quote "Everything's coming up, Waters!"
  • The Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band performs the song during the Rose Parade as their signature theme song.


  1. ^ Citron, Stepen (2001). Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber: The New Musical. New York City: Oxford University Press. p. 92. ISBN 0-19-509601-0.
  2. ^ Brian Kellow. "Merman: A Life". Large print ed. Thorndike Press, Waterville ME (2008) ISBN 978-1-4104-0508-1 p.395-6
  3. ^ Caryl Flinn "Brass Diva: the life and legends of Ethel Merman" University of California Press Berkeley & LA CA (2007) ISBN 978-0-520-22942-6 p.309
  4. ^ Dick, Bernard F. (2006). Forever Mame: the life of Rosalind Russell. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi. p. 209. ISBN 1-57806-890-8.
  5. ^ "Leverage". Lyriel official homepage. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2012.