Though it brims with vibrant reminiscence and a love of craft, “Finishing” is not at heart sentimental. Still, there is one moment in this relentlessly self-critical account of the necessary choices and rejections involved in songwriting that made my eyes brim. That was when Mr. Sondheim was discussing “The Road You Didn’t Take,” a solo from “Follies” performed by Benjamin Stone, a wildly successful but deeply dissatisfied businessman.
Its last two lines: “The Ben I’ll never be,/ Who remembers him?” Mr. Sondheim’s annotation, for once, is approving: “In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that the last two lines make me glow with self-satisfaction.”
Would anyone have serious objections to my posting extracts/quotes from Finishing the Hat? While I’m (understandably) very excited about receiving my copy, I know that not everyone will have one at hand and I wouldn’t want to spoil anyone’s future enjoyment through lack of restraint. Please do let me know!
Hope you’ve ordered your copy! I can’t wait.
Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s new book ‘Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes’ is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com. The title has an expected release date of October 26, 2010.
Get on it.