Is that all there is… 2

Is that all there is?

The lyrics werewritten with a soul-deep, world weariness  and sung with a shrug of nothing-really-matters-and-I-do-not-care despair by the late, great singer, Peggy Lee.

Here’s the chorus:

“Is that all there is?

Is that all there is?

If that’s all there is my friend, then let’s keep dancing.

Let’s bring out the booze

And have a ball.

If that’s all there is.


The lyrics stopped me in my tracks when I heard them for the first time (and cause me to pause nearly every time I listen to them).  The song was one of Ms. Lee’s greatest hits.


The lyrics come to mind occasionally.  Recently, they came to mind when I got to see the inside of a former friend and colleague’s home.  I’ve known her for 25 years and had never been to her home.  She’d been to mind plenty of times.


I know it sounds bad and you may think poorly of me but I couldn’t believe my eyes.  She, who used to look down her nose at other people; she, who always had a snappy comment to make on how people dressed or did things; she, who I stopped going out to restaurants with because she was always so unnecessarily critical of the service, the food, etc., lived in a mess of a broke-down house, with hoarder-level boxes, bags and clutter inside.  There were layers of dirt caked on the outside of the house; worn and dirty carpeting from the 60s on the steps; and sheets covering the windows instead of curtains.


“Really! ” I thought.   You have lived like this, Miss Thing? You’ve been living a couple levels up from a hovel.  You put down so many other people we used to work with and you tore your britches with me so that we didn’t speak for 10 years.  Not only are you not all that now but it turns out you weren’t all that then.*


Is that all there is to you?


I had to laugh to myself as the lyrics kept playing through my head.  Miss Lady was truly were a legend in her own mind.  I always thought there was more to her than there was.  I now understand a lot more about events over the years.  I now understand a lot more about people who front.


I ain’t mad at you.

In fact

 I’m a little sad for you.

 I won’t say this to you

But wow!

This is a little more than I can chew.

I’m a bit perturbed with myself for, once again, giving needless heed to an attitude and not seeing the crud for what it was.


*We’ve all taken a slide or two from who and what we once were…but still.



Is That All There Is?

Lyrics by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Recorded by Peggy Lee in 1969.

I remember when I was a very little girl, our house caught on fire.
I’ll never forget the look on my father’s face as he gathered me up
in his arms and raced through the burning building out to the pavement.
I stood there shivering in my pajamas and watched the whole world go up in flames.
And when it was all over I said to myself, “Is that all there is to a fire?”

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

And when I was 12 years old, my father took me to the circus, the greatest show on earth.
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads.
And as I sat there watching the marvelous spectacle
I had the feeling that something was missing.
I don’t know what, but when it was over,
I said to myself, “Is that all there is to a circus?”

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

Then I fell in love, with the most wonderful boy in the world.
We would take long walks by the river or just sit for hours gazing into each other’s eyes.
We were so very much in love.
Then one day, he went away. And I thought I’d die — but I didn’t.
And when I didn’t I said to myself, “Is that all there is to love?”

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing

I know what you must be saying to yourselves.
If that’s the way she feels about it why doesn’t she just end it all?
Oh, no. Not me. I’m in no hurry for that final disappointment.
For I know just as well as I’m standing here talking to you,
when that final moment comes and I’m breathing my lst breath, I’ll be saying to myself,

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is.


About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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2 thoughts on “Is that all there is…

  • Lilly

    You always seem to post about an issue that is relevant to my life at the point of time I am reading your blog (if that makes sense). My daughter was telling me an hour ago about a boss of hers who is a vindictive bully and negative about everyone. She criticises the way my daughter dresses, her hair etc etc. I told her it was because her boss was very unhappy with themselves, and their life. She is jealous. It has to be that way because happy people do not put down others. We waste so much of our lives on the crud and yet the good stuff and the good people do not get enough of our attention. This post also reminds me of the Lance Armstrongs in the world – which will my next post when I come up with it – mirages, figments of their own imagination. There is no substance to them at all and the lives they destroy with their deceit and fraud is palpable. Perhaps we all need to be able to see through the bullshit a litle quicker than we do. I am glad you got to find out about this person though and can put her behaviour into some kind of context. It is very sad. I would love to break out the booze and have a ball with you one day. I bet we would have lots to talk about, lol.

  • Candelaria

    Unhappy people with power are dangerous.  I once had a boss who held our staff meetings on Friday afternoons because she “didn’t have a life” and didn’t want to release those of us who did “have a life” to our fun, busy weekends.
    Thanks for your thoughtful words – as always.  I haven’t been a drinker but recently I’ve thoguht I could develop the habit of tossing one back every now and again.  A virtual champagne toast to you and your daughter.  I look forward to your Lance Armstrong piece because I know you will nail it!