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What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?

"What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" is a song with lyrics written by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman and original music written by Michel Legrand for the 1969 film The Happy Ending. The song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song but lost out to "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head".[1]

Alan Bergman would recall that after Michel Legrand had written eight melodies which were somehow not viable for the film, Marilyn Bergman suggested the opening line "What are you doing the rest of your life?", and Legrand then completed the song's melody based on that phrase.[2] Marilyn Bergman would later comment on the double meaning of the phrase "What are you doing the rest of your life?" within its parent film: as the romantic theme song's title the question overtly references the marriage proposal Mary Spencer (played by Jean Simmons) received and accepted sixteen years earlier but, as Mary's present-day angst becomes apparent, "What are you doing the rest of your life?" is recast as a question Mary must ask herself.[3]

"What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" was sung in The Happy Ending by Michael Dees whose version was included on the film's soundtrack album.[4] The first evident "outside" cover was by Barbra Streisand who recorded the song on 24 September 1969 in the first session for her intended album The Singer, with the track having a single release 26 October 1969. After two later sessions - in respectively March and April of 1970 - Streisand had recorded a total of eight tracks toward The Singer, only to have Clive Davis shelve the project in favor of an album which was soft rock rather than easy listening, with Streisand cutting the first tracks for what would be her 1971 album release Stoney End on 29 July 1970. "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" was utilized as the B-side of Streisand's #1 hit "The Way We Were" released in 1973, and was included on the 1974 album release The Way We Were.[5][6]

Although the Streisand version drew no evident attention in its original single release, "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" did reach the Easy Listening Top 40 ranking in Billboard - with a #40 peak - via a January 1970 recording by veteran vocalist Jaye P. Morgan, whose version served as the title cut for her first album release in eight years (and her last until 1976).[7] Also in 1970 "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" was recorded by Della Reese for her album Right Now: the 9 November 1997 broadcast of the CBS series Touched by an Angel featured Reese's character; the angel Tess, singing the song in the guise of a supperclub singer.[8].[9]

"What Are Doing the Rest of Your Life?" was also recorded by Dusty Springfield in 1970, in the July sessions at Trident Studios (Soho) for her See All Her Faces album, but despite Springfield having had a Top 40 hit with the Bergman's first Oscar-winning composition "The Windmills of Your Mind" her version of "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" was cut from her upcoming album without being mixed, remaining "in the can" until 1994 when Philips Records put together the four volume box set Dusty: The Legend Of Dusty Springfield with a completed recording of "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" being included on the disc devoted to "Rarities" (the track was in fact first released earlier in the year as a bonus on a CD single which paired Springfield's hits "Goin' Back" and "Son-of-a Preacher Man").[10] In 2006 Springfield's version of "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" was featured in a 60-second commercial for diamonds - sponsored by the Diamond Trading Company - which aired on American television, in cinemas and online.[11]

In 1972 Sarah Vaughan recorded "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" for the album Sarah Vaughan with Michel Legrand on which Legrand acted as arranger and conductor. The track would win Legrand the 1972 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist.[12] More than thirty years later, Billy Childs, Gil Goldstein, and Heitor Pereira won the 2006 Grammy Award for the same category for a version performed by trumpeteer Chris Botti and vocalist Sting on Botti's 2005 album To Love Again.[13]

Other cover versionsEdit


There is also a song called "What Are You Doin' the Rest of Your Life?" in the 1944 film Hollywood Canteen, performed by Jack Carson and Jane Wyman with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.


  1. ^ "Experience over eight decades of the Oscars from 1927 to 2017". Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  2. ^ Kokomo Tribune 29 March 1980 "Bergmans Cash In on Romantic Lyrics" p.2
  3. ^ Los Angeles Times 22 September 1974 "Marilyn & Alan Bergman: collaborating in marriage & work they have a nice n' easy way with Oscar-winning songs" by Marshall Berges p.40 (Home Magazine)
  4. ^ San Fernando Valley Times 28 February 1970 "Record Rack" by Joe Roberts p.14
  5. ^
  6. ^
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  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ Tine, Robert (1998). Touched by an Angel: My Dinner With Andrew. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. ISBN 978-0-7852-7130-9 Check |isbn= value: checksum (help).
  10. ^ Howes, Paul (2001). The Complete Dusty Springfield. London: Titan Books. ISBN 9781781165409.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "With Michel Legrand - Sarah Vaughan - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  13. ^ "Winners: Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)/Best Background Arrangement (1972)". Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  14. ^ "". Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  15. ^ "". Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  16. ^ "". Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  17. ^ "". Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  18. ^ "". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  19. ^ "". Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  20. ^ "". Retrieved February 18, 2018.

External linksEdit