1. For years I thought that Ira Levin made up the line “nothing recedes like success.” I first heard it in the summer of ’78 when I went to see John Wood in Levin’s Deathtrap on Broadway. A N.Y. Times guy, Richard Eder, was also impressed. In a 2.27.78 article called “Stage: Opening Of Deathtrap; Five-Member Cast”, he wrote that “there are some amusing lines, particularly at the beginning. Lamenting his dead-end career after an initial hit, Mr. Wood reflects: ‘Nothing recedes like success.'”
“’Nothing succeeds like success‘ is a French proverb from the 19th century. ‘Nothing recedes like success‘ — that is, nothing goes away faster than success — is a jocular variation that has been cited in print in 1904 and 1905 and was possibly coined by the New York City humor magazine Life.
“Newspaper columnist Walter Winchell (1897-1972) has been credited with the saying; he wrote it in 1931, but the saying existed before Winchell became a columnist.
“The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), pg. 4, col. 4 (8 July 1905): ‘Nothing recedes like success.'”
2. For years I’ve been convinced that the worst lyric that Sting ever wrote was “Hey there, Mr. Brontosaurus / don’t you have a lesson for us?” Which is from “Walking In Your Footsteps” off the Synchronicity album. Then I double-checked and realized that the line is actually “Hey, mighty Brontosaurus / don’t you have a lesson for us?” Which isn’t quite as bad. No “there”, adding the “mighty.”