I feel you, Johanna

Halloween is coming, so I recently watched the video of the 1982 touring company of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  I wonder if the opening lines of the song “Johanna”- “I feel you, Johanna, I feel you”- are the source of the phrase “I feel you,” meaning “I share your concerns and understand your position,” that was in such widespread use a couple of years ago.  Anyway, it’s a good song.  Here is a clip from that 1982 video showing the bits of it from before and after the confrontation between the sailor Anthony and the evil Judge Turpin:

Out of context, a man telling a woman that no barriers can stop him from his plan to “steal” her may sound creepy, though in the show it is clear that she needs all the help she can get to escape from Judge Turpin and the nightmarish London he and men like him have created.  Perhaps the problem of the male rescuer can be alleviated a bit if we turn to Bernadette Peters’ concert version of the song:

Another reinterpretation of the song is provided here, by Robert Adams:

“Happily you were not rotten…”

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