The Sondheim Lyrics Chain

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

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Sep 08, 2020, 12:34 pm #465 Last Edit: Sep 16, 2020, 02:46 am by scenicdesign71
Streams are flying,
Use the motion.

Streams are drying,
Mix a potion.
Streams are dying,
Try the ocean--
Brilliant notion!

(This song is the capstone, lyric-wise, in a show already overflowing with some of SJS's most astonishing poetry.  Which is why it's been very disappointing that, in at least the two larger productions I've seen -- the 2004 B'way revival and the Japanese TV recording of the 1976 original B'way original -- its lyric has been difficult, at best, to make out.  Rather than blame these productions' respective sound designers, I chalk this down to the simple fact of its being sung by a large chorus with a lot of energetic dancing happening at the same time; I seem to recall John Doyle's much smaller 2017 staging sounding beautifully crystalline overall, though I can't remember if that held true for the finale specifically.  If not, it's a real problem; there's already a lot to take in at this crucial juncture in the show, but I've yet to be convinced that dance and spectacle, no matter how sharp, subtle or intelligently deployed, can outshine the brilliance of this lyric.  They can illustrate or comment on it; they might even significantly heighten the words' effect by emphasis and/or contrast.  But if we can't hear those words, clearly, from beginning to end (their effect is cumulative), then the visuals become, at best, a kind of clumsy translation -- or, at worst, a bewildering distraction).


Mrs. Lovett,
What a charming notion--
Eminently practical and yet
Appropriate as always,
Mrs. Lovett,
How I've lived without you all these years
I'll never know!
How delectable!
Also undetectable!


Grandmother first, then Miss Plump...
What a delectable couple!
Utter perfection: one brittle, one supple--
One moment, my dear...!


She was grand, bland, 
Brave or brisk or brittle,
Anything required,
Both concerned and 
Strictly non-committal -
And a little tired.

She was deftly deferential, 
Or so they wrote on her wreath.
No one ever glimpsed her 
But when stripped -
Down to the essential -
Mind you, this is -
Confidential -
Way down underneath...
Morals tomorrow


One more kiss to melt the heart!
One more glimpse of the past...
One more souvenir of bliss,
Knowing well that this
One must be the last.


Pardon me, ma'am, what's that awful stench?

Are we standing near an open trench?

Must be standing near an open trench.

Buy Pirell's Miracle Elixir:
Anything wot's slick, sir,
Soon sprouts curls.
Try Pirelli's!
When they see how thick, sir,
You can have your pick, sir,
Of the girls!


Sep 16, 2020, 05:03 pm #471 Last Edit: Sep 16, 2020, 05:43 pm by scenicdesign71
Then see the pretty girls
Smiling everywhere from the ads
And the TV set...
And why should you sweat?
What do you get?
One day of grateful
For six of regret?

If you stick with this game long enough, everything starts looking familiar, e.g. you start to wonder not only whether the lyric you're leaving has already been used previously, perhaps for the very word you're targeting, and perhaps even in response to the same clue, but whether entire sequences of plays might even have cropped up in the same order before.

Feeling a little of that déja-vu just now, I used the "Search/This topic" box and discovered that, while this is the third instance of "regret" that has popped up on this thread, there have
not been any duplications among those -- and there are at least two additional instances that haven't been cited yet.  ("Girls," meanwhile, has shown up numerous times, but never before as a target-word, until Kathy left it in "Pirelli's Miracle Elixir" just now).

So my déja-vu was -- as is the way of such things -- entirely false.  But in case anyone cares, the "regret"s that have been played previously are from "The Road You Didn't Take" ("One has regrets, / Which one forgets"), "Sorry-Grateful" ("...regretful-happy"), and "Happily Ever After" (above).


Okay, now you know,
Now forget it.
Don't fall apart at the seams.
It's called letting go your illusions,
And don't confuse them with dreams.

Yes sir, quite a blow ?
Don't regret it,
And don't let's go to extremes.
It's called what's your choice?
It's called count to ten.
It's called burn your bridges, start again.
You should burn them every now and then
Or you'll never grow!

(I quoted both stanzas to flag the rhyme with forget, which may be one of the most frequent couplings in the canon - but I'm happy to be corrected. It's certainly used in three instances I can recall. This is another factor which could contribute to the undeniable sense of déjà vu.  
I've mentioned before how maybe the most frequent is hours/flowers. I've never yet got round to testing this with a gargantuan spreadsheet, but it's on my bucket list  ;D  )
Morals tomorrow