The Five Best Sondheim Rhymes

Categories: Theater

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With Follies heading back to Broadway, the people behind that production will be thrilled to know that three of the top five Sondheim rhymes of all time are from that brittle and witty show (according to me, anyway).

He's simply the master of shimmering couplets that you can't get out of a thesaurus, and if you could, he wouldn't bore us with them. (Hey, "thesaurus"/"bore us"! That rhymes!)

Anyway, back to the master. His best:


(5) "The hands on the clock turn, but don't sing a nocturne just yet." --A Little Night Music

The same song has the equally dizzying, "Perpetual sunset is rather an unsettling thing."


(4) "This is how Samson was shorn / Each in her style a Delilah reborn." --from "Beautiful Girls," Follies

Not only do we get "shorn"/"reborn", but the internal rhyme of "style-a"/"Delilah". Pure genius.


(3) "Another chance to disapprove / Another brilliant zinger / Another reason not to move / Another vodka stinger / Aaaaaaaahhhh! I'll drink to that." --from "The Ladies Who Lunch," Company

We've all raised many a toast to that lyric, even while wearing a hat.


(2) "Putting thoughts of you aside in the South of France / Would I think of suicide? Darling, shall we dance?" --from "Could I Leave You?," Follies

"You aside"/"suicide" has always impressed me as the kind of thing I wish I had thought of.


(1) "When a person's personality is personable / He shouldn't oughta sit like a lump / It's harder than matador coercin' a bull / To try to get you off of your rump." --"You Could Drive a Person Crazy," Company

"Personable"/"coercin' a bull"? That's beyond cute and clever. And it's therefore the winner.

Thank you, Sondheim, oh rhymer divine.

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37 comments
Daniel Brodie
Daniel Brodie

One of 'em a judge, t'other one his beadle!Every day they'd nudge and they'd wheedle!But she wouldn't budge from her needle!

Michael Dale
Michael Dale

My favorite is "It's alarming how charming I feel."  Very Noel Coward-ish

lameatman
lameatman

From 'Im Still Here'Commie tool - got through it stinko, by the pool &

                                                                        

Robert Seth Vorisek
Robert Seth Vorisek

"Listen, everybody, look, I don't know what you're waiting for,a wedding, what's a wedding, it's a prehistoric ritualwhere everybody promises fidelity forever, which ismaybe the most horrifying word I ever heard of, which isfollowed by a honeymoon, where suddenly he'll realize he'ssaddled with a nut, and wanna kill me, which he should--

Thanks a bunch,But I'm not getting married--Go have lunch,'Cause I'm not getting married--You've been grand,But I'm not getting married--Don't just stand there,I'm not getting married--And don't tell Paul,But I'm not getting married today.

Go, can't you go?Why is no-Body listening?Goodbye,Go and cryAt another person's wake.If you're quick,For a kick,You could pickUp a christening,But please,On my knees,There's a human life at stake!

Listen everybody, I'm afraid you didn't hear, or do you want tosee a crazy lady fall apart in front of you, it isn't only Paulwho may be ruining his life, you know we'll both of us be losingour identities, I telephoned my analyst about it and he said tosee him Monday, but by Monday I'll be floating in the Hudson withthe other garbage--

I'm not well,So I'm not getting married--You've been swell,But I'm not getting married--Clear the hall,'Cause I'm not getting married--Thank you all,But I'm not getting married--And don't tell Paul,But I'm not getting married today.COMPANY, "Getting Married Today". 

Robert Seth Vorisek
Robert Seth Vorisek

Listen, everybody, look, I don't know what you're waiting for,a wedding, what's a wedding, it's a prehistoric ritualwhere everybody promises fidelity forever, which ismaybe the most horrifying word I ever heard of, which isfollowed by a honeymoon, where suddenly he'll realize he'ssaddled with a nut, and wanna kill me, which he should--

Thanks a bunch,But I'm not getting married--Go have lunch,'Cause I'm not getting married--You've been grand,But I'm not getting married--Don't just stand there,I'm not getting married--And don't tell Paul,But I'm not getting married today.Go, can't you go?Why is no-Body listening?Goodbye,Go and cryAt another person's wake.If you're quick,For a kick,You could pickUp a christening,But please,On my knees,There's a human life at stake!

Listen everybody, I'm afraid you didn't hear, or do you want tosee a crazy lady fall apart in front of you, it isn't only Paulwho may be ruining his life, you know we'll both of us be losingour identities, I telephoned my analyst about it and he said tosee him Monday, but by Monday I'll be floating in the Hudson withthe other garbage--I'm not well,So I'm not getting married--You've been swell,But I'm not getting married--Clear the hall,'Cause I'm not getting married--Thank you all,But I'm not getting married--And don't tell Paul,But I'm not getting married today. --Sondheim, Stephen, "COMPANY," "I'm Not Getting Married Today"

Ralph
Ralph

With riotous laughter,we quietly sufferthe season in town, which is reason enough for...

and a pinch of coriander...that's what makes the gravy grander....more hot pies.

AndrewMilner
AndrewMilner

In view of her penchant/For something romantic/De Sade is too trenchant/And Dickens too frantic/And Stendahl would ruin/The plan of attack/As there isn't much blue in/"The Red and the Black"/DeMaupassant's candor/Would cause her dismay/The Brontes are grander/But not very gay/Her tastes are much blander/I'm sorry to say/But is Hans Christian Ander-/Sen ever risque?/Which eliminates "A"...

Muscato
Muscato

Infinitely less crafty (and ditto more vulgar) than most of what's been cited already, but Gypsy's "You Gotta Have a Gimmick" is one great Burley-Q rhyme after another ("Bump it with a trumpet"!)...

La Grand Puta
La Grand Puta

Hello I bring you greetings from Her Majesty Victoria,Who learning that you're trading now sings "Hallelujah Gloria!"She sent me to convey to you her positive euphoriaas well as little gifts from Britain's various emporia.

Carne
Carne

Several people have cited "Can That Boy Foxtrot." So why was that song cut???

Prince
Prince

michael how about some Kander and Ebb love?  Sondheim is so clinical...K&E lyrics are where you find emotion :)

Gregorama
Gregorama

As dumbells go,He's rather slow,And as for being saintly Even faintly no,But who needs Albert Schweitzer When the lights are low... "Can That Boy Foxtrot!" from "Follies"

Dmkirby
Dmkirby

"​With Follies heading back to Broadway, they'll be thrilled to know that three of the top five Sondheim rhymes of all time are from that brittle and witty show (according to me, anyway)."

Is it just me, or are only TWO of the rhyming quotes listed from Follies?

Greg Gevas
Greg Gevas

Every day a little deathIn the parlor, in the bed,In the curtains, in the silver,In the buttons, in the bread.Everyday a little stingIn the heart and in the head,Every move and every breathAnd you hardly feel a thingBrings a perfect little death.

A-B-C-B-D-B-A-D-A! Who could come up with such a rhyme scheme?!?

Jordan
Jordan

In the depths of her interior/ were fears she was inferior/ and something even eerier/ but no one dared to query her superior exterior.

DianaJMB
DianaJMB

An herb that's superb for disturbances at sea.

CoercinABull
CoercinABull

She sits at the Ritz with her splits of Mumms And starts to pine for a stein with her Village chums, But with a Schlitz in her mitts down in Fitzroy's Bar, She thinks of the Ritz, oh it's so schizo.

Anne Slovin
Anne Slovin

If the tea the Shogun drank willServe to keep the Shogun tranquil,I suggest, if I may, my lord...

Joseph Roberts
Joseph Roberts

Ira Gershwin thought of You aside/Suicide before Sondheim.What Causes That? from Crazy For YouWhen she keeps on brushing you aside Oh gosh, you're all at sea! You go contemplating suicide -- It's much too much for me! 

Gay Movie Fan
Gay Movie Fan

Save a lot of graves, do a lot of relatives favorsEverybody shaves, so there should be plenty of flavors... It's fop, finest in the shop,And we have a Shepherd's Pie pepperedWith actual shepherd on top... Sweeney Todd.  The whole score is one brilliant rhyme after another, and I am familiar with most of Sondheim's work.   Although my favorite Sondheim show is still the ORIGINAL (not the revival versions) of FOLLIES.  The changes that James Goldman made to the book of the various revival versions gutted the show.   

Timmee
Timmee

And do not put your faith in a cape and hood/They will not protect you the way that they should/And take extra care with strangers/Even flowers have their dangers/And while scary is exciting/Nice is different than good. --Into the Woods Not a couplet, but the story of my life in six succinct, brilliantly rhymed lines.

Maurice1199
Maurice1199

I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff, GrabIt.com

Robbiejnyc
Robbiejnyc

"And be hopelessly shatterd by Saturday night" is my favorite.  Even if it isn't perfect.

Oil
Oil

"Said this bum'll be Beau Brummel"---From Gypsy

Daniel J Darling
Daniel J Darling

Should there be amarital squabble, available Bob'll be there with the glue.

Musto
Musto

"A toast to that invincible bunch...The dinosaur surviving the crunch...Let's hear it for the ladies who lunch...Everybody rise! Rise! Rise!..."

Jpbran
Jpbran

"While her withers wither with her." Into the Woods

Isis
Isis

I always liked "crude remarks....battered barks" in "Another 100 People"

Bwaybill
Bwaybill

Then you career from career to career....

James_Cloninger
James_Cloninger

Which is why Steve cringes every time he hears it.  :)

James_Cloninger
James_Cloninger

It was a one-joke song, and originally was just an aside piece, much like "Rain On The Roof".  He tried to expand it to make it more full-fledged song (which you can hear on the "Marry Me A Little" album), however, it's still just a one-joke song.

Muscato
Muscato

To make way for the incredible "I'm Still Here", which gets across everything you need to know about Carlotta Campion (as, arguably, "Foxtrot" does as well) - but is also both brilliant and heartbreaking.

Musto
Musto

Yeah, I love those guys too. Maybe I'll do a tribute  to them.

Bruce
Bruce

 The technical term for that in classical rhetoric is zeugma.  It will be on the test.

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