"Memory" is a show tune from the 1981 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats sung by the character Grizabella, a one-time glamour cat who is now a shell of her former self. The song is a nostalgic remembrance of her glorious past and a declaration of her wishes to start a new life. Sung briefly in the first act and in full near the end of the show, "Memory" is the climax of the musical, and by far its most popular and well-known song.
The lyrics, written by Cats director Trevor Nunn, were based on T. S. Eliot's poems "Preludes" and "Rhapsody on a Windy Night". Lloyd Webber's former writing partner, Tim Rice and then-current collaborator Don Black submitted lyrics to the show's producers for consideration, however, Nunn's version was favoured.
Lloyd Webber, fearing that the tune sounded too similar to a work of Puccini, and the opening - and the haunting main theme is also from the clarinet solo in the Mamas & Papas' 1965 song "California Dreamin'" - asked his father's opinion. According to Lloyd Webber, his father responded, "It sounds like a million dollars!"
Prior to its inclusion in Cats, the tune was ear-marked for earlier Lloyd Webber projects, including a ballad for Perón in Evita and as a song for Max in his original 1970s draft of Sunset Boulevard.
In its original orchestration, the song's climax is in the key of D-flat major, the composer's favorite.
The song is often incorrectly referred to as "Memories"; the correct title is the singular "Memory".