Last year, legendary songwriter Paul Williams wrote a ballad for Elaine Stritch after he saw an early cut of the documentary, “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me.” The ode, “Looking for Love in the Dark,” was inspired by a scene in her film, where Stritch talks about her late husband, the actor John Bay. Williams decided to explore that relationship in his melody. “I had a real connection when she talked about her husband, that she was made for this man,” recalls Williams, whose credits include “Evergreen” (from “A Star is Born”), “We’ve Only Just Begun” and the Muppets classic “Rainbow Connection.” “There was such an acceptance of him being gone, and the love that survived the ages.”
Stritch was supposed to belt the song at the end of the film, but after her health deteriorated, she was never able to get back into the studio. Williams attended Stritch’s last show in April 2013 at the Carlyle Hotel, where he waited anxiously to gauge her reaction. A mutual friend, Sting, introduced them backstage. “She looked at me and said, ‘Oh my god! The f–king song!'” Williams says. “It was a great Elaine moment.”
Stritch, who died at 89 last week, was buried today in Skokie, Illinois, next to her husband at a small service. Williams agreed to let Variety release the song in his friend’s memory. The version below is performed by John Lee Sanders.
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“Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me” will be re-released in select theaters this week. Williams is now working on the “Pan’s Labyrinth” musical, and he’s the co-writer (with Tracey Jackson) of the upcoming book “Gratitude & Trust: Recovery is Not Just for Addicts.”