Read Online Finishing the Hat Collected Lyrics 1954 1981 With Attendant Comments Principles Heresies Grudges Whines and Anecdotes – dedelicate.com
Read Online Finishing the Hat Collected Lyrics 1954 1981 With Attendant Comments Principles Heresies Grudges Whines and Anecdotes – dedelicate.com
What I did there That s really good And it s great It s totally entertaining and fascinating and seful Overall this is a great lesson in the importance of constraints in writing Because man does he have to work with constraints It has to not only make sense but it has to rhyme And the part at the beginning where he talks about the different kinds of rhyme and why only perfect rhymes matter was fascinating and made me want to re evaluate the lyrics of songwriters who we consider to be really good lyricists Because maybe there is a lost art thing happening there in popular music Maybe AND also about constraints there are a number of examples where some of the best songs of his career were 3rd or 4th drafts or last minute additions to the show written in hotel rooms in Boston The show wasn t working he needed to fix it It s not done Tempting Kate (Regency Quartet, until it s done The amount of cut songs in here is mind blowing He just writes and writes and writes and keeps goingntil it s done and then still keeps going after it s done It s really inspiring I haven t read the whole book I m skipping around from show to show and enjoying it but this was at 5 stars after the first few sections I read Company A Little Night Music in my caseReally really looking forward to the 2nd volume of this so we can dig into Assassins and the second acts of Sunday In the Park With George and Into the Woods about which I have Opinions so I cannot wait to see how they mesh and clash with His opinions I poked away at this for years dipping in and out before finally finishing this week Sheer genius Can t wait to crack Volume 2 So much of what I could say in a review of Sondheim s lovely book of lyrics Finishing the Hat is touched Progress or Collapse upon by singersongwriter Paul Simon in an article he wrote for The New York Times will only add my own thoughts which are wordy because I love the man When I was a freshman in my rural Iowa high school I took vocal lessons with a local college instructor Hollis Dobref who later went on to work with Jason Smith to devel Look I m a music theater buff and a Sondheim freak So it was preordained that I would love this book Actually I was expecting to find it redundant if not nostalgia inducing inasmuch as I have long owned and adored copies of his scores and libretti and near memorized recordings of every Sondheim show save thenloveable mess that is Road Show about which you can read my review elsewhere on Goodreads However I can confidently tell you that ANYbody with even a PASSing interest in theater would delight in reading this book It kicks off with an extended and fascinating essay on what distinguishes song lyrics from poetry proceeds chronologically through Sondheim s writings including lyrics to cut and rewritten songs from the chamber piece Saturday Night it took than 50 years to see produced through to 1981 s Merrily We Roll Along Unlike the Golden Age collections of lyrics edited by Robert Kimball Sondheim s is heavily interlarded with both contextualizing plot synopses he thanks the efforts of his liner notes authors for their ahem inspiration and Sondheim s own annotations witticisms and criticisms It is the latter of these that make this such an invaluable book it s chock full of insight not just to Sondheim s work ethic but to his attitudes about lyric writing in generalBut wait there s In addition to collecting lyrics from thirteen different shows Finishing the Hat is full of great examples that illustrate his principles from various writers including Dorothy Parker as well as constructively critical assessments of his professional predecessors Oscar Hammerstein Noel Coward Alan Jay Lerner Ira Gershwin Frank Loesser et al Best of all the book is rich with photostats of handwritten early drafts and you can thereby see the master at work it s all about filling the margins with a brainstormed thesaurus of The New Goddess useable phrases and coupletsSondheim makes no bones about being both opinionated and rigid when it comes to the subject of lyric writing I ve already written about this in the comments to GoodReader Trevor s typically excellent review of Jay Parini s Why Poetry Matters In the context of Parini TrevorotedRoyal Society of Literature Fellow and OBE Don Paterson s distinction between poetry and song lyrics which I found to dovetail ite nicely with Sondheim s opinionsFrom pp xvii xviii of the Introduction Sondheim writesMusical theater Lyrics even poetic ones are not poems Poems are written to be read silently or aloud not sungPoetry is an art of concision lyrics of expansion Poems depend on packed images on resonance and juxtaposition on density Every reader absorbs a poem at his own pace inflecting it with his own rhythms stresses and tone The tempo is dictated less by what the poet intends than by the reader s comprehension All of s as we read poetry prose too slow down speed p even stop to reread when overwhelmed by the extravagance of the images or confused by the grammatical eccentricities The poet may guide s with punctuation and layout and seduce The Monster in My Closet us with the subtle abutment of words and sounds but it is we readers who supply the musical treatmentPoetry can be set to music gracefully as Franz Schubert and a long line of others have proved but poetry doesn t need music lyrics doLyrics are not light verse either Light verse doesn t demand music because it supplies its own All those emphatic rhythms ringing rhymes repeated refrains the poem sings as it s being read This is why The Pied Piper has never been set well take away the singsong and you destroy the poem keep it in the music and you bore the listener mercilessly with rhythmic repetition Music tends to hammer light verse into monotony or shatter its grace Light verse is completento itself Lyrics by definition lack something if they don t they re probably not good lyricsHowever to cite but one counter example I ve always thought that Samuel Coleridge Taylor s setting of Longfellow s Song of Hiawatha was both fun and also true to the light verse original without being sing songy So notwithstanding Sondheim s incredible talent vast experience and estimable success as against my The Sea Lion Festival utter non entitude I m not sure I m prepared to agree with the man 100%Examples of his extreme fussiness abound Take this line from Silly Peoplea contemptuously chromatic song cut from A Little Night Music p 279 When now it smilesIt smiles for loversWhen next it smilesIt smiles for foolsThe last it smilesIt smiles for themThe othersThe rememberersThe truly silly people There s probably some Hammerstein influence here Hello Young Lovers from The King and I and perhaps a bit of Lorenz Hart as well Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered from Pal Joey Sondheim s rightfully proud of the song as a whole which was cut for reasons of pacing and character but then he finds it necessary to addOne point in the lyric worth noting thenfortunate juxtaposition of lovers and others When a musical parallel seems to call for a rhyme and either none is available or it would neaten the structure too much the solution is to Greenlighting (Directors Cut use two words which sonically have nothing to do with each other so that the ear doesn t register them as a near miss That had been for me anyhow a problem with Together Wherever We Go in Gypsy where at the end of the chorus Together and Wherever were sung slowly sounding as if they should rhyme In that case the fogginess of the near rhyme was partly mitigated by the two words coming together in the title so that it seemed part of the fabric of the lyric Here the word others was the only word that I wanted to. Lished songs from each show songs that were cut or discarded before seeing the light of day He discusses his relationship with his mentor Oscar Hammerstein II and his collaborations with extraordinary talents such as Leonard Bernstein Arthur Laurents Ethel Merman Richard Rodgers Angela Lansbury Harold Prince and a panoply of others The anecdotes filled with history pointed observations and intimate details transports back to a time when theater was a major pillar of American culture Best of all Sondheim appraises his work and dissects his lyrics as well as those of others offering nparalleled insights into songwriting that will be studied by fans and aspiring songwriters.
A Bow for Mr SondheimStephen Sondheim Will probably forever be regarded as the finest lyricist the musical stage has known with apologies to librettist W S Gilbert or Gilbert and Sullivan fame He has always taken on stories that encourage no force the audience to relate to his ideas whether that be in the early stages of his career with the magnum opus West Side Story or with the subseuent Gypsy Pacific Overtures Follies Sundays in the Park with George Company Sweeney Todd A Little Night Music etc But while most everyone knows the lyrics to his large number of hits few of s know the secrets or gossip or the lyricists real feelings about each of his ventures ntil now This book is a very well written compendium of the lyrics in every phase of their being notes ideas misjudgments and personal responses to the shows and the people involved with them Sondheim is brilliant not only at what he has done for a living but also as a thinker and philosopher and pundit Reading this book as opposed to scanning this book opens windows of insight into the career and the personality of one of America s treasures There is so much to enjoy about this book that it will take several readings to absorb it all It is a welcome addition to the libraries of all those who care about the stage musicals that are one of the few niue offerings of this country to the world of music Grady Harp What does it mean to make art Does the artist create and nurture his work or does it feed on him consuming his life Spank! until he is forever finishing the hat Paging through Stephen Sondheim s recent memoircommentaryanthology I couldn t help wonderingIn his book Sondheim discusses the principles and heresies of lyric composition at the level of a technical master analyzing himself and his deceased contemporaries with all the precision of his own best lyrics He writes as he is a curmudgeonly veteran of the stage who spares nothing and no one from criticism Having performed Sondheim musicals on the stage I am familiar with the challenge his work presents to performers and audiences but it was only by reading Sondheim s own meticulous notes that I discovered an inkling of his true genius His lyrics are simple even conversational and elaborate each syllable and consonant contending with and complimenting the score By some strange alchemy Sondheim reconciles the maxims Less is and God is in the details And yet these clear true beautiful lyrics are from a man with a bleak loveless childhood a gay man who has never sustained a long term relationship in his 20 plus years out of the closet The book offers no bridge to that gap except to invite the conclusion that Sondheim like George of Sunday in the Park is always finishing the hat distracted from real life by the art he draws it from All in all a fascinating read that like its author both illuminates and fascinates When I first heard about this book I wasn t too excited For some reason I wasnder the impression that it was just a collection of the lyrics Nice to have but really not that necessary since ahem I already know them all by heart I dutifully ordered the book from the library though this is Sondheim we re talking about after all When it came in and I took a closer look at it I realized how wrong I d been and immediately sat down and started reading This is the book Sondheim fans have been waiting for and it was a great great pleasure to read it Far from being just the lyrics the book has a wealth of material about the songs the productions and musical theater in generalIncluded are a brief preface in which Sondheim outlines his mantra for lyric writing a general introduction and a short essay on rhyme After the intr There is nobody like Sondheim Much as I love Cole Porter and the Rogers and Hart and Rogers and Hammerstein musicals it s Sondheim who sings to meThis collection of lyrics to his musicals from West Side Story in 1957 to Merrily We Roll Along in 1981 is enlightening Sondheim introduces each show includes the lyrics to songs that were cut and explains the dynamics between him and the producer director writer of the book choreographer and composer if he was writing only the lyrics as in West Side Story Apparently Jerome Rob Stephen Sondheim wrote all of FINISHING THE HAT covering roughly the first half of his musical career 1954 81 He reprints the lyrics and offers side remarks as to what was going on at the times these shows were composed This period embraces WEST SIDE STORY for which he wrote the lyrics also A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM words and music both ditto that daring pair COMPANY and FOLLIES ca 1970 Also in this volume are A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC PACIFIC OVERTURES and others To style this generous coffee table ish book in part Grudges Whines and Anecdotes may have been a little too self deprecating but in so doing Sondheim did grant himself leave to digress which he does Saints and Misfits upon occasion Never mind even the digressions are worthwhile After reading FINISHING THE HAT you realize you needn t have bothered with about two thirds of the writing by critics and journalists in other books and media who are not Stephen Sondheim Followed by LOOK I MADE A HAT I do realize that the earlier book in seuence is called FINISHING THE HAT while the latter one is called LOOK I MADE A HAT 1981 2011 and that they d make better sense if the titles had been switched but since this is Stephen Sondheim I m of no mind toibble Note If buying new the canny consumer can sually get a discount if the two vols are purchased simultaneouslyPhoto Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein 1955 I m fascinated by people who love their work and take it seriously so even if I wasn t a musicals fan I probably would ve enjoyed this book The subtitle describes it pretty well this is a collection of Sondheim s lyrics from the first half of his career along with his commentary about the process of writing the lyrics and creating the shows He also gives ncensored opinions on other lyricists work which are saved from seeming brutal by their obvious sincerity and by the fact that he is just as hard on himself Only very occasionally does he veer into seeming a bit spiteful and then mostly about criticsThis offers fascinating insight into the process of writing lyrics and the theatre world I read every bit of commentary even that about shows I m not familiar with and I can t wait for the second volume Look I Made a Hat Collected Lyrics 1981 2011 With Attendant Comments Amplifications Dogmas Harangues Wafflings Diversions and Anecdotes I mean yeah I don t know how else to rate this It s on a totally different scale than a novel or whatever If you are interested in musical theater in general and in Sondheim in particular then obviously this book is for you But also if you are interested in learning about how a writer who is EXTREMELY GOOD at what he does actually does what he does you might want to look at this There is tons of good writing advice packed in here and a lot of fascinating critical self dissection along the lines of that Community post mortem Dan Harmon did in the AV Club There are a bunch of parts where Sondheim points out egregious errors in his work In time honored and Bon Appetit, Yall universally cherished songs Songs you love and know by heart And he points out problems you probably never even noticed and will now not be able tonsee But for every I never should have done that and I can t believe that at the time I couldn t think of a better way to finish that line moment there is a moment where he points to something and says See. Stephen Sondheim has won seven Tonys an Academy Award seven Grammys a Pulitzer Prize and the Kennedy Center Honors His career has spanned than half a century his lyrics have become synonymous with musical theater and popular culture and in Finishing the Hat titled after perhaps his most autobiographical song from Sunday in the Park with George Sondheim has not only collected his lyrics for the first time he is giving readers a rare personal look into his life as well as his remarkable productionsAlong with the lyrics for all of his musicals from 1954 to 1981 including West Side Story Company Follies A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd Sondheim treats s to never before pub.
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Use and I couldn t avoid the juxtaposition Much as I like this song the sound of others still makes the word a wrong choice Given comments like this one might suppose that Sondheim would accede to the idea that a computer program could be devised which through algorithm and dictionary alone as opposed to databases of exemplars could consistently churn out original and emotionally resonant works with few if any boners No doubt there are AI s out there that produce good facsimiles of poetry and song I ve heard some great MIDI fractal generators which fed enough pieces to analyze can occasionally mimic music composition fairly well and no doubt either that eventually a Kurzweill will produce a program that devises one or pieces which an educated musicologist cannot distinguish as automated in origin though I would nonetheless credit the programmer for the output I don t ltimately see a distinction between the creative abilities of human versus artificial intelligence I just think that any effective artistic statement reuires variation among a set of one or many factors including changeable rules and input while strict adherence to a one size fits all approach will be sterile While I don t dare dispute that good works can be found to adhere to articulatable principles and that craft can be found in the consistent application of those principles I guess I would take issue with Sondheim s view that there is an invariable RIGHT way to compose lyrics music or what have youSondheim even goes so far as to argue that each of his shows respective sets of lyrics has an essence and existence distinct and independent from one another as opposed to displaying a She Weeps Each Time Youre Born uniue personal style with the homogeneity of voice and tone he finds within the works of Cole Porter Irving Berlin Lorenz Hart Ira Gershwin and Dorothy Fields According to Sondheim his songs individuality arises by circumstances of plot and characterniue to each production I find this to be an arrogantly myopic and Warheart (Sword of Truth, unnecessary conceit Nor am I alone in this Sondheim s works are sufficiently self similar that they have been successfully re assembled into multiple reviews at least two of which Marry Me a Little and Putting it Together have complete books with plotsnrelated to the songs original settings Putting it Together is the remarkable as a Sondheim meta musical in that it could credibly serve as a musical version of Who s Afraid of Virginia Woolf At one point in the second act Sondheim sLive Alone and Like It which while cut from Dick Tracy sounds much of a piece with the songs of Saturday Night is sandwiched so neatly between companion songs from A Little Night Music and Company it s clear it could have been inserted as nobtrusively in any of those three other worksIronically given Sondheim s apparent contempt of self similarity he prides himself on his capacity for mimicry both of the writing styles of his librettists and of the compositional styles of his peers Deliberate pastiche abounds in his work especially in his lush score for Follies although the line between period piece mimicry and competent fulfillment of genre expectations is a murky one In any case I m not sure why it would be a bad thing for a talented artist to demonstrate a recognizable personal style For me the lyrical tic most evident from reading this collection is Sondheim s constant contrast of life as an emblem of love meaning and fulfillment with its opposite a time honored operatic tradition in the context of eros as brilliantly documented by Peter Conrad s A Song of Love and Death The Meaning of OperaIn fact there s not a show in this book that doesn t have at least one lifedeath lyricSaturday Night And when you re alone On a Saturday night You might as well be deadWest Side Story Make of our vows one last vow Only death will part s now He ll murder your love he murdered mineGypsy Anybody that stays home is dead Some people can sit around Under glass till they re nderground That s perfect for some people Who don t know how to liveA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum If you start to feel a tingle And you like remaining single Stay home don t take a breath You could catch your death Cause love is around Anyone Can Whistle Crazy business this this life we live in Don t complain about the time we re given With so little to be sure of in this world Anyone can whistle that s what they say easyJust once I ll do it Just once before I dieDo I Hear a Waltz She s nice and sweet and dead He s tall and ineffectual They look delicious they re gonna be all rightCompany Somebody crowd me with love Somebody force me to care Somebody let me come through I ll always be there As frightened as you To help s survive Being alive Someone to hold you too close Someone to hurt you too deep Someone to bore you to death Happily ever afterFollies Dreams you didn t dare Are dead In Buddy s arms On Buddy s shoulder I won t get older Nothing dies One kiss before we part Not with tears or a sigh All things beautiful must die Learn how to laugh Learn how to love Learn how to live That s my styleA Little Night Music Soon I ll be Ninety and Dead Do I fear Death Let it Come to me Now If I m Dead I can Wait How can I Live Diana (Sunfire, until Later Every day a little death In the parlor in the bed Every move and every breath And you hardly feel a thing Brings a perfect little deathThe Frogs All aboard Club Dead Straight ahead What with the dancing and the eating And the laughing and the drinking There s no problem in retreating From the awkwardness of thinking And that ever present smidgin of dread Down here among the dead Likep there among the deadPacific Overtures Life and death are but verses in a poem The word stops the heart dies The wind counts the lost goodbyesSweeney Todd Because the lives of the wicked should be made brief For the rest of The Woman in the Wall us death will be a relief We all deserve to die Not a thing to fear My love What s dead Is dead And life is for the alive my dear So let s keep living itMerrily We Roll Along Dreams don t die So keep an eye on your dream But I just go on Thinking and sweating And cursing and crying And turning and reaching And waking and dying Andntil I die I ll die day after dayAfter dayAnd that s but a smattering Sondheim s perpetual elevation of love and personal fulfillment to a mortal struggle a metaphorical if not literal matter of life and death is clearly his favorite themeSondheim may be oblivious to his own id e fixes but I don t think he s correct to find fault in them Personally I find the obsession fascinating in its variation and no less effective a metaphor for all its repetition from show to show With a bit of familiarity Sondheim s work can be spotted a mile away And so what s wrong with a bit of style Anyone who can toss off lines as clever as In the movies life is finerLife is cleanerBut in Brooklyn it s a minorMisdemeanor In the Movies from Saturday Night p 9orHyphenated HarrietThe nouveauFrom New Ro Chelle sitsAt the RitzWith her splitsOf Mumm sAnd starts to pineFor a steinWith her village chumsBut with a SchlitzIn her mittsDown in Fitz Roy s BarShe thinks of the Ritz ohIt s soSchizoUptownDowntown cut from Follies p 236deserves to be celebrated not condemned Sondheim claims that collections of song lyrics are superfluous given the existence of performable shows and extant recordings Neither this work nor its anticipated seuel Look I Made a Hat would have been written had not his publisher goaded him into it Well good on his publisher I m hard pressed to imagine a curmudgeon I d rather rea. For years to come Accompanying Sondheim’s sparkling writing are behind the scenes photographs from each production along with handwritten music and lyrics from the songwriter’s personal collection Penetrating and surprising poignant funny and sometimes provocative Finishing the Hat is not only an informative look at the art and craft of lyric writing it is a history of the theater that belongs on the same literary shelf as Moss Hart’s Act One and Arthur Miller’s Timebends It is also a book that will leave you humming the final bars of Merrily We Roll Along while eagerly anticipating the next volume which begins with the opening lines of Sunday in the Park with George.
Stephen Joshua Sondheim is an American musical and film composer and lyricist winner of an Academy Award multiple Tony Awards seven than any other composer multiple Grammy Awards and a Pulitzer Prize He has been described by Frank Rich in the The New York Times as the greatest and perhaps best known artist in the American musical theater His most famous scores include as composer