Not too terribly familiar with Sondheim, but some of his true “Wordsmith” type ventures have always struck me as quite impressive and I’d like to explore a bit more.
Allow me to emphasize that I’m looking for recommendations that really show him flexing his “Wordsmith” muscles. If you have recommendations of lyrics that you connect with because you relate to the sentiment, or you feel a lyric succinctly explains a “great truth” or common human experience, let me say right off the bat that that isn’t what I’m looking for here. Sure I can appreciate all that, but it’s not what I’m looking for here.
By “Wordsmith” I don’t mean simply a lyricist who fills his songs with lots of big “SAT Words”, although effectively incorporating a well mastered vocabulary is certainly part of it: the greater the command an artist has of the tools of the craft, the more fully the artist can expand his/her execution of the craft. So, yes, vocabulary is part of it, but I’m also looking for cleverness in applying the literary devices of verse such as inventive rhyme schemes, use of alliteration, assonance, consonance, and double entendre.
To better solicit recommendations allow me to share some of the Sondheim that I am already impressed with, examples that have lead me to want to know more:
More (from Dick Tracy)
You’ll note there are no big “SAT Words” in this song, but the way the lyrics lock in with the rhythm- it’s really impressive. My favorite segment:
Also, this is one of those songs where it repeatedly resolves to the same word, “More”, requiring several and varied words that need to rhyme. Sure “-ore” isn’t a terribly difficult ending to rhyme but the structure of this song puts him in the position of having to come up with eight distinct rhymes for the same word and he did it without repetition and in such a way that no word is ever forced in in a way that comes off as contrived, nothing ever jars the listener out of the narrative.
This song is actually such a perfect example of what I am looking for, lyrically I consider it one of the most impressive songs ever, that I could actually use it as my only example in soliciting recommendations for similar achievement. But for fun, and better measure, I’ll list a couple other examples of what I like:
So, hopefully I’ve clearly explained what I’m most looking for. The examples listed are the kind of thing that most turns me on (artistically). It may also be helpful to note that I am exploring Sondheim from the perspective of a Tom Lehrer fan, Lehrer often cites Sondheim as one of his favorite lyricists.
Doper Sondheim fans, what are your recommendations?