Alan & Marilyn Bergman


One of the minor cinematic gems to come out of the late '60s was director Norman Jewison's The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway's performances as a cool bank executive who pulls off the perfect crime and the female insurance investigator trying to snare him have become iconic images of Hollywood during that period. The Thomas Crown Affair also contained a poem that fit perfectly with the mood of the movie and its characters. I call it a poem because it really is a poem full of visual imagery that expands on its title, full of windmills and spirals and tunnels and linguistic mazes that revolve back around into themselves. It was written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and then set to music composed by Michel Legrand (who composed all the music for the movie). The vocal was sung by Noel Harrison and it won the Academy Award for Best Music - Original Song. Many people probably remember it better from the version recorded and released in 1969 by Dusty Springfield, that reached #31 on the pop charts.



The Windmills of Your Mind

Round,
Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that’s turning
Running rings around the moon

Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half-forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream

Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Keys that jingle in your pocket
Words that jangle in your head
Why did summer go so quickly?
Was it something that you said?
Lovers walk along a shore
And leave their footprints in the sand
Is the sound of distant drumming
Just the fingers of your hand?
Pictures hanging in a hallway
And the fragment of a song
Half-remembered names and faces
But to whom do they belong?
When you knew that it was over
You were suddenly aware
That the autumn leaves were turning
To the color of her hair

A circle in a spiral
A wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel
As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind