The Sondheim Lyrics Chain

Started by KathyB, Jul 10, 2017, 09:48 AM

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scenicdesign71

But the woman was perfection,
Not an action denied--
The kind of perfection
I cannot abide.
If the woman were perfection,
She'd have simply lied!
...Which would have been wonderful.

MartinG

If I could have been a Duke,
For you I would have.
All the things you should have
I cannot supply you.

(...the example I have in mind isn't a million miles from another 'have been'  :) )
Morals tomorrow

scenicdesign71

Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you'll be.
Look at all the things you gave to me:
Opened up my eyes!
Taught me how to see,
Notice every tree,
Understand the light...
Concentrate on now.

Chris L

I'm going back to playing game police in order to keep things moving. Anybody want to come up with a lyric for the word "concentrate"?
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

MartinG

If my waist was thinner.
If my hips were flatter.
If my voice was warm.
If I could concentrate...

I'd be in the Follies.
I'd be in a cabaret.
Gentlemen in tall silk hats
And linen spats
Would wait with flowers.
I could make them wait for hours.
Morals tomorrow

scenicdesign71

I know why nobody cares to
Take them -- I should know,
I make them!  But good??  No,
The worst pies in London.
Even that's polite!

KathyB

Keep away from her,
Send for Chino!
This is not the Mar-
Ia we know!
Modest and pure,
Polite and refined,
Well-bred and mature
And out of her mind!

MartinG

I wish I could forget you,
Erase you from my mind.
But ever since I met you,
I find 
I cannot leave the thought of you behind.
Morals tomorrow

Chris L

All afternoon, doing every little chore
The thought of you stays bright.
Sometimes I stand in the middle of the floor
Not going left, not going right.

I dim the lights, and think about you.
Spend sleepless nights, and think about you.
You said you loved me, or were you just being kind?
Or am I losing my mind?
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

scenicdesign71

#294
You said you loved me,
Above the sound and speed!
With your love,
What more do I need?

Without the Hat book handy, I can't be certain whether it's "loved" or "love" -- the interweb lists both, depending where you look.  Personally, I'd say "loved" is more defensible for Follies (where I believe the past-tense is in fact used), but in "What More Do I Need?" it would make more sense to use "love".

But I remember being struck, years ago when I first heard Liz Callaway sing the latter, by the coincidence of SJS using this same line in two different contexts: one buoyantly happy (I'm sure someone has attempted a downbeat rendering of "WMDIN" by now, but overall I'd peg it as one of the sunnier songs in the Sondheim canon), and the other anguished.  The coincidence stayed with me enough to suggest that, my unreliable memory of the actual lyrics notwithstanding, they are in fact probably identical.

Still, in a sense, that sharp difference in tone suggests why I actually feel like a corresponding distinction in tense would be more appropriate.  Sally may seem wildly deluded in real life, but the torchy tone of her Follies number suggests she's aware that Ben only loved her -- if at all -- while he was actually saying it; his feelings might not endure for days or even hours, much less thirty years, after their utterance.  Conversely, the singer of "WMDIN" seems to joyfully assume that, regardless of specifically when the words were said, the sentiment they express is ongoing, if not timeless.

Chris L

Damn, I was so excited to find an Internet site that used the word "loved" that it never occurred to me to check, but Finishing the Hat does indeed say that it's "love," so I'm declaring it a bunny and reverting to Kathy's line:

the thought of you

(I also listened to Liz Callaway's live version on Spotify but, even relistening to it now, I can't tell which word she's singing.)
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

KathyB

It's actually Martin's line, and I'm just going to take the Follies lyrics and end in a different place:


All afternoon, doing every little chore
The thought of you stays bright.
Sometimes I stand in the middle of the floor
Not going left, not going right.

I dim the lights, and think about you.
Spend sleepless nights, and think about you.


scenicdesign71

#297
Curtain up!  Light the lights!
You got nothing to hit but the heights!
I can tell, wait and see.
There's the bell -- follow me!
And nothing's gonna stop us 'til we're through...

I've always thought this verse's second line must be SJS poking affectionate fun at the ebulliently striver-ish American idiom in which Rose not only speaks, but thinks.  "Nothin' to hit but the heights," really?  First of all, just to be obtuse: the urgent need of the moment is something to hit?*  And, that being the case: literally all other hittables are spoken-for?  "Nothing to x but y" is, I guess, a venerable cliché, and if "hit the heights" isn't, it probably should be -- but how many people would think to mix them?  She seems to mean "there's nowhere to go but up," (or, as Charley Kringas puts it, decades later, "When you're flattened this low and you're starting from scratch, / You can only go in one direction") -- but Rose's coinage is, like the lady herself, sort of daft and transcendent at once.

It reminds me -- by a huge stretch, admittedly -- of a "found haiku," published in the NYPress sometime in the early 1990s, which so tickled my fancy that I promptly committed it to (apparently long-term) memory.  Ostensibly barked by a sanitation worker to a resident complaining about some garbage that had been awaiting his arrival for far too long after a citywide strike:  "Garbage, lady? Shit, / Garbage don't move by itself. / Garbage don't got legs."
____________________
*Actually, if it comes to that, part of me would kinda love to stage this lyric as Rose's instant co-optation of a disconsolate Louise's having just punched the cow in the face.

MartinG

Ev'ry night, in the kip, when we're through our kippers,
I'll be there slippin' off your slippers!
By the sea,
With the fishies splashing!
By the sea,
Wouldn't that be smashing?
Morals tomorrow

KathyB

Nothing but a vast midnight,
Everybody smashed flat.
Nothing we can do
Not exactly true
We can always give her the boy