The Sondheim Lyrics Chain

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

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I want to make things that count
Things that will be new...

I did what I had to do...

What am I to do?

Move on...

Stop worrying where you're going
Move on
If you can know where you're going
You've gone
Just keep moving on
Self indulgence is better than no indulgence!


You're gonna love tomorrow.
You're gonna be with me.
You're gonna love tomorrow,
I'm giving you my personal
Morals tomorrow


Aug 27, 2019, 08:53 pm #407 Last Edit: Mar 14, 2020, 05:58 pm by scenicdesign71
Bring me these before the chime
Of midnight in three days' time,
And you shall have, I guarantee,
A child as perfect as child can be.

Go to the wood!

I never noticed the "chime/time" rhyme until just now -- it's one of several instances in the so-called "Witch's Rap" where a shift into declamatory "speech" tends to obscure the fact that the lines being spoken are still very much tied metrically into the staccato, quasi-hip-hop rhyme scheme of the lyric.  The other instances include  "I should-have-laid-a spell on him right there: / Could've turned-him-into-stone, or-a dog or-a chair" and "I laid-a-little-spell-on-them -- you too, son: / That your fam'ly-tree-would-always-be-a barren one."  Even if the rhyme itself doesn't slip by unnoticed, the periodic shift into a slower, freer conversational tempo has always seemed to me to prevent this song from taking off: once her garden's been inventoried (to reliably amusing effect), I've yet to see a Witch who succeeded in mining real fireworks from this lengthy exposition-delivery.  Perhaps the information itself was regarded, understandably, as too crucial to risk burying under rhythmic speed or complexity.

But in the above example ("Bring me these..."), the rhyme and rhythm get blurred not by a shift in tempo per se, but by the scansion itself: the second line seems to want an extra syllable -- as it might be, "Of midnight in just three days' time" -- without which the meter feels off (or would, if the line were delivered in a way that still felt governed by meter).  We're also not prepared for these two couplets to rhyme, since the preceding four lines -- the list of objects to be brought -- are completely unrhymed.  You'd think the list itself might be a perfect place for rhyme-as-mnemonic aid, but again, I guess an argument could be made that you don't want to distract the listener from this crucial setup of the evening's entire plot with easy-to-tune-out-from, unrelieved singsong delivery.

Still, I've always found the Witch's Rap just a teensy bit wishy-washy both as genre pastiche and as starter-gun for the story.  I don't know much about rap, but it seems to me that clarifying points by slowing down and simplifying, as per SJS's own credo, might represent a basic misapprehension of the genre he's half-heartedly adopting here:  I may be wrong, but it seems to me that in hip-hop, key points are emphasized by, if anything, speeding up and hammering at them repeatedly from as many different angles as possible.  (The Baker's sterility, for instance, could've occasioned a machine-gun spray of verbal shade from the Witch, rather than an abrupt, weirdly lengthy pause to cackle and randomly levitate).   I'd love to hear Lin-Manuel take a serious crack at revising this lyric, just to see what he'd come up with.

Go to the


Here's a lyric I didn't even know existed until I went searching.

Bobby, there's a concert on Tuesday.

Hank and Mary get into town tomorrow.

How about some Scrabble on Sunday?

Why don't we all go to the beach?

Bob, we're having people in Saturday night.

Next weekend?



Bobby, baby...

Whatcha doing Thursday?



Bobby bubi...

Time we got together, is Wednesday all right?


Darling, you keep the drugs.
Angel, you keep the books,
Honey, I'll take the grand,
Sugar you keep the spinet...

(There's only one instance I've identified and it's from a revised lyric omitted from FTH...)
Morals tomorrow


Quote from: MartinG on Sep 07, 2019, 02:43 am(There's only one instance I've identified and it's from a revised lyric omitted from FTH...)
This has been sitting for six months, and nobody has guessed, and I'd really like to get this game going again. I have no idea where it is, but the only lyric I could think of that was omitted from Sondheim's lyric books was the song that Meryl Streep sang in the Into the Woods movie that was cut. I searched out that scene on the DVD and played it, and "sugar" wasn't there. :(  But I feel I did my due diligence in search of the lyric.

Can we possibly have another hint?


Mar 23, 2020, 01:53 am #411 Last Edit: Mar 23, 2020, 02:44 am by scenicdesign71
According to, there is a single "sugar" buried in Company's opening number, among the many terms of endearment addressed to Bobby (this one by Susan, apparently -- a quasi-Southernism?) -- but I don't have any reason to suppose that it was a later revision, and it does appear in Finishing The Hat.

Meanwhile, that contrapuntal insanity is such a shitshow to sort out (even FTH throws up its hands, opts for saving a few trees, and just lists whole chunks of it as simply being sung by "Others") that I'm not even gonna try to transcribe its context here,

[etc.] Sugar [etc.]

except to say that it is at some point followed by

...How have you been?
Stop by on your way home!                                  [more
Bobby,                                                                    gack
We've been thinking of you!                              happening
Drop by anytime!

Bobby, there's a concert on Tuesday...

...Which, for extra fun, purely coincidentally circles right back around to the beginning of the last lyric you played, Kathy (and bless you for having the patience to get yours all down word by word).

(But I am still curious as to what Martin's revised-but-omitted-from-FTH "sugar" was.   :-\ )


Mar 23, 2020, 11:21 am #412 Last Edit: Mar 23, 2020, 11:34 am by MartinG
Not as curious as I am!  :-[ I've spent the past day racking my brains to recall the obscure nugget I'd evidently unearthed back in September (on my wedding anniversary, I note! :o ), but to no avail.  :(

Sincere apologies for sending you on a wild goose chase I can't currently substantiate, Kathy. I'll keep trying to track down whatever I had in mind, but thank goodness Dave came across the other legitimate example (which I'd actually stumbled on too, earlier today when trying to retrace my steps), and things can move on...

"Did you get my message? 'Cause I looked in vain."
"Can we see each other Tuesday if it doesn't rain?"
"Look, I'll call you in the morning or my service will explain."
And another hundred people just got off of the train.

It's a city of strangers,
Some come to work, some to play.
Morals tomorrow


You must hear a waltz!
Even strangers are dancing now,
An old lady is waltzing in her flat,
Waltzing with her cat.


Quote from: KathyB on Mar 30, 2020, 04:41 amYou must hear a waltz!
Even strangers are dancing now,
An old lady is waltzing in her flat,
Waltzing with her cat.
At my tiny flat it's just my cat
A bed and a chair
Self indulgence is better than no indulgence!


I should have laid a spell on him right there --
Could've turned him into stone, or a dog, or a chair.

But I let him have the rampion; I'd lots to spare.
In return, however, I said, "fair is fair:
You can let me have the baby that your wife will bear!
...And we'll call it square."


The bride is slightly square,
The groom is slightly cynical
A little vino--
They're gonna be all right.


All right, George.
As long as it's your night, George...
You know it's in the room, George:
Another Chromolume, George.
It's time to get to work...


And now to test
This best of barber chairs...
It's time...
It's time...

Excuse me?


Dear, see to the customers.


Yes, what, love?

Quick, now!

Me heart's aflutter.