Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011) with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Wafflings, Diversions and Anecdotes
After his acclaimed and best-selling Finishing the Hat (named one of the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2010), Stephen Sondheim returns with the second volume of his collected lyrics, Look, I Made a Hat, giving us another remarkable glimpse into the brilliant mind of this living legend, and his life’s work.
Picking up where he left off in Finishing the Hat, Sondheim gives us all the lyrics, along with excluded songs and early drafts, of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Assassins and Passion. Here, too, is an in-depth look at the evolution of Wise Guys, which subsequently was transformed into Bounce and eventually became Road Show. Sondheim takes us through his contributions to both television and film, some of which may surprise you, and covers plenty of never-before-seen material from unproduced projects as well. There are abundant anecdotes about his many collaborations, and readers are treated to rare personal material in this volume, as Sondheim includes songs culled from commissions, parodies and personal special occasions over the years—such as a hilarious song for Leonard Bernstein’s seventieth birthday. As he did in the previous volume, Sondheim richly annotates his lyrics with invaluable advice on songwriting, discussions of theater history and the state of the industry today, and exacting dissections of his work, both the successes and the failures.
Filled with even more behind-the-scenes photographs and illustrations from Sondheim’s original manuscripts, Look, I Made a Hat is fascinating, devourable and essential reading for any fan of the theater or this great man’s work.
Reaching through the world of the hat
By Damien Slattery - December 5, 2011
This second (and final) volume sees Sondheim amend some of the omissions in his last book, and of course is a study of his lyrical contributions from SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE to his most recent ROAD SHOW, with a litany of attendant side-notes that enhance and reveal his craft.
Other reviewers had noted that the greater part of this book examines the evolving developments of his WISE GUYS/BOUNCE/ROAD SHOW odyssey and this is devoid of any criticism of collaborators - a noble feat, considering the public spats and litigation that flowered this particular theatrical effort.
The essays in this book are less frequent than before, and his wonderful perceptions of the theatrical lyricists that colored his last endeavor are reduced to two minor articles in brief overview of some of the lesser-known practitioners like John La Touche and Hugh Martin. I could have done with more of these, as Sondheim has a natural facility for criticism. Other essays detail his... read more
Art Isn't Easy, Indeed
By AC Willment - November 29, 2011
As a Sondheim fan (though not as monomaniacally worshipful as some) I have positive but not unmixed feelings about this book, as I did about the previous volume, Finishing the Hat. Overall I'd highly recommend both, in fact think they are invaluable for anyone interested at all in American musical theatre. But to the old expression that children, law, and sausage are three things one should not watch being made, I might add a fourth: art. As with the first book, I sometimes shook my head in dismay and wonderment, asking myself, "was that REALLY what you were thinking when you wrote ...?" I was so disappointed to find that the wittiest line in West Side Story was not an intentional play on words, but a compromise because SS couldn't drop an f-bomb. ("Krup you" is witty. The f-bomb wouldn't even have been funny.) The letdown in this volume was to find that the shooting-gallery setting in Assassins (my favourite of his works) was in the source material, not Sondheim's invention. In sum,... read more
Look, I Made a Hat
By Brendan Moody - December 29, 2011
In terms of structure this second volume of Stephen Sondheim's collected lyrics is much like his first: after a one-paragraph summary of the show and an introductory note on its development from a concept to a full production, we get the lyrics, including cut songs and alternate versions, surrounded by just enough plot summary that the songs make sense and interspersed with annotations on the logic behind the songs, the stories behind them, the successes and failures (in Sondheim's eyes) of a line, a verse, a whole lyric. Short essays on general musical-theater themes appear in boxouts at intervals throughout. A few photos, all black-and-white, are nice enough but pale in comparison to the other images: reduced pages that show the original handwritten workings for various songs, with alternate readings crowding each other out. They aren't always fully legible, but the general insight into the evolution of a song is invaluable. On a larger level, the annotations and essays reveal... read more
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