2011: 5. Finishing the Hat

“There are only three principles necessary for a lyric writer, all of them familiar truisms.”

Finishing the Hat, Stephen Sondheim

          Oh my lord, I loved this book.  Could not put it down.  Picking it up again, to blog about (for, indeed, I read this in early January, and tomorrow is April), I am seriously thinking about rereading it.  Loved, loved it.

           If you don’t know, Finishing the Hat is Sondheim’s collected lyrics (1954-1981) “with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines, and Anecdotes.”  In other words, Sondheim gives us all of his lyrics (through Merrily We Roll Along), and annotates them, and gives comments about them, and the productions.  And also gives us his opinion on various lyricists for the Broadway stage (all deceased - he won’t talk about the living).  And, ooooh, does he talk smack.  The book is clever and erudite - and bitchy and gossipy.  And its about Broadway, which I adore.  Seriously, LOVED it.  My only very minor point is that I much preferred the sections on the play I already knew - because you do enjoy the lyrics more once you know the songs, and can link them in your little wee mind.  But the solution involves learning the scores of some new Sondheim musicals - hardly a punishment. If you have any interest in Broadway, I cannot recommend this highly enough.  I’m sitting on my hands waiting for the sequel (cannot wait to read about Assassins)!!

Categories:  Broadway Lyrics (that’s right, it’s so good I invented a new category!!)

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017