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Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics…

Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011) with Attendant Comments,… (udgave 2011)

af Stephen Sondheim (Forfatter)

Serier: Finishing the Hat (2)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
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Picking up where he left off in "Finishing the Hat", Sondheim richly annotates his lyrics with personal and theatre history, discussions of his collaborations, and exacting, charming dissections of his work -- both the successes and the failures.
Titel:Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011) with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Digressions, Anecdotes and Miscellany
Forfattere:Stephen Sondheim (Forfatter)
Info:Knopf (2011), Edition: F First Edition, 480 pages
Samlinger:Theatre, Non-Fiction

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Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011) with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Digressions, Anecdotes and Miscellany af Stephen Sondheim



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What it says on the hat. Like many geniuses, Sondheim might be better served to let his works speak for him, but there are a few gems outside of the lyrics. In discussing Into the Woods, he says that the concept of fairy tales offered too many possibilities—if you have no point to make, which characters you choose can be arbitrary. Also fairy tales don’t have enough events—they can’t sustain a two-hour musical. Then he and James Lapine came up with the idea of having a mash-up (after first having a different idea, for a mash-up in which popular characters like T.J. Hooker, Ralph and Alice Kramden, etc. met up). Inspiration is weird and relies on existing stuff. I also liked the story behind Road Show, which I saw produced last year—changed substantially from what’s in the book, since Sondheim can’t stop tinkering, and it was notable that the main character’s homosexuality was one thing that went from hints to central in the newer version; the book talks about changing social attitudes, but change happened even after he wrote the book. ( )
  rivkat | Dec 20, 2016 |
Great reference book, exactly what I was looking for! ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
Stephen Sondheim's new book, Look, I Made a Hat, is not a sequel to Finishing the Hat but a part two. They'll probably be sold as a boxed set this Christmas. They'd make a great gift.

Look, I Made a Hat features all the lyrics from all the shows, and many other assorted songs, written by Mr. Sondheim from Sunday in the Park with George until the present. Mr. Sondheim includes songs written for movies, revues and revivals along with a few special lyrics he wrote for friends' birthdays. These lyrics, together with those of the first book, are a valuable resource as well as a fun collection to dip into now and then.

One thing Finishing the Hat had which Look, I Made a Hat lacks is the critiques of other songwriters Mr. Sondheim included in the first book. These were insightful, sometimes a bit bitchy, and fun to read. They were also a wonderful little course on how to write well. Understanding just what Mr. Sondheim thinks are Cole Porter's shortcomings and Noel Coward's faults can help anyone become a better writer. Whether you love or hate Mr. Sondheim's shows, you have to admit he knows what he is doing. His advice on how to write a good song lyric, is good advice for any writer.

There is some of this in Look, I Made a Hat, but Mr. Sondheim covered almost everyone of note in the first book and has pledged not to comment on songwriters who are still living/working, which is big of him. I bet he has lots to say. I was hoping he would comment on Alan Mencken, the lyricist half of the team that wrote Little Shop of Horror's and Disney's Beauty and the Beast movie, arguable breathing new life into the Disney animated musical.

One thing that may prove very interesting to die hard musical fans is the thorough look at all three incarnations of Road Show, which I saw in Chicago back when it was called Bounce. It's as detailed an analysis of a flop as one is probably ever going to find.

But I found an overall feeling of coda throughout Look, I Made a Hat. The book feels like a very long afterward to Finishing the Hat. It's still fun, but most readers are likely to find themselves skimming or skipping through it, looking for the parts that interest them rather than reading it all, or at least trying to read it all, like they did with Finishing the Hat.

All I can say is that I found many parts that interested me. ( )
  CBJames | Jul 5, 2012 |
Thanks for the memories!

The first volume of Stephen Sondheim’s collected lyrics and reflections was so spectacular, all I could hope for was that he could equal it—and that’s exactly what he’s done. Look, I Made a Hat has all the strengths of the first volume. It has the same gorgeous photographic spreads, and the book designer must have heard all the complaints about the difficult to read typeface of the lyrics in the last volume. This book features black print that’s perfectly legible.

It should be no surprise to any reader that Stephen Sondheim is a master wordsmith. His precise and slightly persnickety voice comes through loud and clear. Sondheim’s “comments, amplifications, dogmas, harangues, digressions, anecdotes, and miscellany” are absolutely riveting, and his humor peeks through as he relates his stories. And the man’s vocabulary is absolutely staggering! I was delightedly looking up the occasional word as I read. “Gallimaufry” anyone? Steve, I’m happy to learn from you any day.

It could be argued that Mr. Sondheim’s most productive years were covered in Finishing the Hat. Still, the five major musicals covered in this volume (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Assassins, Passion, and the many incarnations of Wise Guys) are some of his very finest. In the first volume, I was so excited to read about the troubled production of Merrily We Roll Along. In this volume is was the circuitous history of Wise Guys/Bounce/Road Show—a “saga in four acts, he calls it—that I was anxious to hear straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were.

There’s one more thing about this second volume that, in some ways, tops the first book for me. Mr. Sondheim wrote about many of his most famous and classic shows in the first book, but there are a lot of resources with which to learn about those celebrated productions. In this volume, he speaks of the musicals that were never to be, the movies, the television work, and other miscellaneous projects. A lot has been written about Company, not so much about the unproduced musical Muscle, or the amazing television musical Evening Primrose. In short, this is the only place you can really read about these almost mythological productions. Yes, I’m a huge geek, but I’m not alone. It’s thrilling!

I came of age during the years covered by this book. I was 19 or 20 when I took the train to NY for the first time to see a Broadway show. I vividly remember the sight of the giant’s enormous legs hanging over the side of the (then) Walter Beck Theater. It was my very first Sondheim production on Broadway. It was the first of many, and it was life-altering. All I can say at this point is: Thanks for the music and thanks for the memories! ( )
1 stem suetu | Dec 22, 2011 |
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Finishing the Hat was intended to be a collection of all the lyrics I've written since I became a professional, together with things I wanted to say about lyric writing in general.
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Picking up where he left off in "Finishing the Hat", Sondheim richly annotates his lyrics with personal and theatre history, discussions of his collaborations, and exacting, charming dissections of his work -- both the successes and the failures.

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