Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey
Photo: GAB Archive/Redferns
The Making Of Cabaret
(Since its inception in 1973, the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame has enshrined nearly 1,000 recordings across all genres. The Making Of … series presents firsthand accounts of the creative process behind some of the essential recordings of the 20th century. You can read more Making Of … accounts, and in-depth insight into the recordings and artists represented in the Hall, in the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition book.)
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(As told to Tammy La Gorce)
Liza Minnelli: What I remember most about recording Cabaret is that Joel [Grey] and I got a case of the giggles when we were doing "Money, Money." It was horrible because we kept having to start over again and again, and it was so expensive [to make the album]. We would just keep breaking up, and so would [director Bob] Fosse.
Joel Grey: She's right. We couldn't get through the number, we were laughing so much. The reason we were laughing was because for the number we had to wear these costumes. We'd wear them for rehearsals and to the studio, and my costume was from a bunch of extras used in the German film business from maybe the 1930s. The album was recorded in Munich, Germany, where we made the film for four weeks, I think in 1971. And you know — I want to choose my words carefully here — the standards for cleanliness in Europe at that time were perhaps not what they are now. So when I started to perspire, it was as though all the people who had ever worn the costume were perspiring with me, and we were perspiring all together. These aromas came wafting up, and that's what we were dealing with. That's what made us giggle.
Minnelli: Another thing that worked well for me musically on Cabaret was that I had recorded a song on my first album [1964's Liza! Liza!], when I was a kid, called "Maybe This Time." Fosse finally put it in the movie, and I got to sing that. So it worked out nicely, except for the giggling. I also remember that it was very efficient, the recording. And we did everything properly because Fosse was like that — he wanted everything done right and precisely. He was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Still, I was stunned that it became such a huge hit. Because you can never really know.
Grey: I think I knew that the world was going to embrace it. But did I know that it would be here forever? I don't think anybody ever knows that. We knew it was special and unique, though.
Minnelli: One of the things you have to remember is that it was such a [talented] group we were working with — Fosse and Joel and [writers/composers] John Kander and Fred Ebb. With all of that talent, how could it not be wonderful? I'm still grateful I got the chance to be a part of it.
(Tammy La Gorce is a freelance writer whose work appears regularly in The New York Times.)