Thursday, May 27, 2010

Everybody Dies

I first heard The Ladies Who Lunch in about 1979, when I rented the LP of Sondheim's "Company" from the Rock Island Public Library (though back then, "Barcelona" was my favorite piece, because I could just about follow the story -- alcohol-fueled late-life cynicism is not so accessible to a 12-yr-old).  But today, for the very first time, I realized that the key line at the end of LWL isn't "everybody does", but "everybody DIES." So the lines are:

Look into their eyes
And you'll see what they know:
Everybody dies.

Dear Sondheim -- I want to cry when I think about how you scored this.  Yes, my panties are in a bunch!  Why on earth did you put "dies" at the climax of a transitional line -- that's not even transitioning to bigger, but to smaller ("A toast to that invincible bunch / The dinosaurs surviving the crunch")?  In fact, this whole fucking final stanza is denouement -- the center of the song is OBVIOUSLY the one right before it -- "Another reason not to move, Another vodka stinger" is the heart, and the drunken, wrenching "aaaaahhh" that follows it is the soul.  You can't just throw "You'll see what they know: Everybody dies" in afterwards like that.  Say, fellows, I have an idea!  How about if after the Titanic sinks, a goddamn giant narwhal comes and spikes all the drowning Irishmen on his unihorn?   After Hamlet dies, why don't we have Fortinbras come in and set fire to the fucking castle?

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