Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Stephen Sondheim, fully Stephen Joshua Sondheim

American Composer and Lyricist, winner of multiple Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award, Author of Sweeney Todd

"Everything depends upon execution; having just a vision is no solution."

"Alright! You sir, you sir, how about a shave? Come and visit your good friend Sweeney. You sir, too sir? Welcome to the grave. I will have vengenance. I will have salvation. Who sir, you sir? No ones in the chair, Come on! Come on! Sweeney's. waiting. I want you bleeders. You sir! Anybody! Gentlemen now don't be shy! Not one man, no, nor ten men. Nor a hundred can assuage me. I will have you! And I will get him back even as he gloats In the meantime I'll practice on less honorable throats. And my Lucy lies in ashes And I'll never see my girl again. But the work waits! I'm alive at last! And I'm full of joy!"

"There's a hole in the world like a great black pit and the vermin of the world inhabit it and its morals aren't worth what a pig could spit and it goes by the name of London. At the top of the hole sit the privileged few Making mock of the vermin in the lonely zoo turning beauty to filth and greed... I too have sailed the world and seen its wonders, for the cruelty of men is as wonderous as Peru but there's no place like London!"

"Though it's fearful, Though it's deep, though it's dark And though you may lose the path, Though you may encounter wolves, You can't just act, You have to listen. you can't just act, You have to think. Though it's dark, There are always wolves, There are always spells, There are always beans, Or a giant dwells there. So into the woods you go again, You have to every now and then. Into the woods, no telling when, Be ready for the journey. Into the woods, but not too fast or what you wish, you lose at last. Into the woods, but mind the past. Into the woods, but mind the future. Into the woods, but not to stray, Or tempt the wolf, or steal from the giant-- The way is dark, The light is dim, But now there's you, me, her, and him. The chances look small, The choices look grim, But everything you learn there Will help when you return there. The light is getting dimmer.. I think I see a glimmer-- Into the woods--you have to grope, But that's the way you learn to cope. Into the woods to find there's hope Of getting through the journey. Into the woods, each time you go, There's more to learn of what you know. Into the woods, but not too slow-- Into the woods, it's nearing midnight-- Into the woods to mind the wolf, To heed the witch, to honor the giant, To mind, to heed, to find, to think, to teach, to join, to go to the Festival! Into the woods, Into the woods, Into the woods, Then out of the woods-- And happy ever after!"

"Bit by bit, putting it together... Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art. Every moment makes a contribution, Every little detail plays a part. Having just the vision's no solution, Everything depends on execution, Putting it together, that's what counts."

"I was watching him crawl, Back over the wall-! Then bang! Crash! And the lightning flash! And- well, that's another story, Never mind- Anyway..."

"Was that me? Yes it was. Was that him? No it wasn't.. Just a trick of the woods! Just a moment, One peculiar passing moment. Must it all be either less or more, Either plain or grand? Is it always 'or'? Is it never 'and'? That's what woods are for: For those moments in the woods... Oh, if life were made of moments, Even now and then a bad one--! But if life were only moments, Then you'd never know you had one. First a witch, then a child, then a Prince, then a moment-- Who can live in the woods? And to get what you wish, only just for a moment-- These are dangerous woods.. Let the moment go.. Don't forget it for a moment, though. Just remembering you had an 'and,' when you're back to 'or,' Makes the 'or' mean more than is did before. Now I understand-- And it's time to leave the woods."

"TODD: The history of the world, my love -- LOVETT: Save a lot of graves, Do a lot of relatives favors! TODD: Is those below serving those up above! LOVETT: Ev'rybody shaves, So there should be plenty of flavors! TODD: How gratifying for once to know BOTH: That those above will serve those down below!"

"Careful the things you say, Children will listen. Careful the things you do, Children will see. And learn. Children may not obey But children will listen. Children will look to you For which way to turn, To learn what to be. Careful before you say, "Listen to me." Children will listen."

"Loving you is not a choice, It's who I am. Loving you is not a choice And not much reason to rejoice, But it gives me purpose Gives me voice to say to the world: This is why I live You are why I live. Loving you is why I do The things I do Loving you is not in my control. But loving you, I have a goal For what's left of my life... I would live, And I would die for you."

"No one has ever loved me As deeply as you. No one has truly shown me What love could be like until now: Not pretty or safe or easy But more than I ever knew. Love within reason - That isn't love. And I've learned that from you."

"My Friend Todd: These are my friends See how they glisten See this one shine How he smiles In the light My friend! My faithful friend! Speak to me, friend Whisper, I'll listen I know, I know You've been locked Out of sight All these years! Like me, my friend! Well, I've come home To find you waiting Home And we're together And we'll do wonders Won't we? You there, my friend Mrs. Lovett: I'm your friend too, Mr. Todd Todd: Come, let me hold you Mrs. Lovett: If you only knew, Mr. Todd Todd: Now, with a sigh Mrs. Lovett: Ooh, Mr. Todd! Todd: You grow warm in my hand Mrs. Lovett: You're warm in my hand Todd: My friend! Mrs. Lovett: You've come home! Todd: My clever friend! Mrs. Lovett: Always had a fondness for you, I did Todd: Rest now, my friend Mrs. Lovett: Never you fear, Mr. Todd Todd: Soon I'll unfold you Mrs. Lovett: You can move in here, Mr. Todd Todd: Soon you'll know Todd and Mrs. Lovett: Splendours you'd never have dreamed all your days Mrs. Lovett: Will be yours! Todd: My lucky friend! Mrs. Lovett: I'm your friend! And you're mine! Todd: Till now your shine Mrs. Lovett: Don't they shine beautiful? Todd: Was merely silver! Mrs. Lovett: Silver's good enough for me, Mr. T Todd: Friend You shall drip rubies You'll soon drip precious Rubies At last, my arm is complete again!"

"It's not so much do what you like as it is that you like what you do."

"It's your father's fault that the curse got placed and the place got cursed in the first place."

"I have successfully avoided enjoying opera all my life."

"Todd:I had him! His throat was there beneath my hand. No, I had him! His throat was there and now he'll never come again. Mrs. Lovett: Easy now, hush love hush I keep telling you, Whats your rush? Todd: When? Why did I wait? You told me to wait - Now he'll never come again. There's a hole in the world like a great black pit And it's filled with people who are filled with shit And the vermin of the world inhabit it. But not for long... They all deserve to die. Tell you why, Mrs. Lovett, tell you why. Because in all of the whole human race Mrs. Lovett, there are two kinds of men and only two There's the one staying put in his proper place And the one with his foot in the other one's face Look at me, Mrs Lovett, look at you. No, we all deserve to die Even you, Mrs Lovett, even I! Because the lives of the wicked should be made brief For the rest of us death will be a relief We all deserve to die. And I'll never see Johanna No I'll never hug my girl to me - finished! Alright! You sir, how about a shave? Come and visit your good friend Sweeney. You sir, too sir? Welcome to the grave. I will have vengenance. I will have salvation. Who sir, you sir? No ones in the chair, Come on! Come on! Sweeney's. waiting. I want you bleeders. You sir! Anybody! Gentlemen now don't be shy! Not one man, no, nor ten men. Nor a hundred can assuage me. I will have you! And I will get him back even as he gloats In the meantime I'll practice on less honorable throats. And my Lucy lies in ashes And I'll never see my girl again. But the work waits! I'm alive at last! And I'm full of joy! ps. love the movie the performance that Johnny Depp did was amazing and he sang amazing."

"Automobile in America, Chromium steel in America, Wire-spoke wheel in America, Very big deal in America! Immigrant goes to America, Many hellos in America, Nobody knows in America, Puerto Rico's in America! I like the shores of America! Comfort is yours in America! Knobs on the doors in America! Wall-to-wall floors in America!"

"Sometimes people leave you Halfway through the wood Others may decieve you You decide what's good You decide alone But no one is alone"

"Any moment, big or small, is a moment, after all. Seize the moment, skies may fall, any moment."

"A close-up on screen can say all a song can."

"Because the lives of the wicked should be made brief For the rest of us death would be relief."

"All the best performers bring to their role something more, something different than what the author put on paper. That's what makes theatre live. That's why it persists."

"Children can only grow from something you love to something you lose."

"After the Rodgers and Hammerstein revolution, songs became part of the story, as opposed to just entertainments in between comedy scenes."

"By the time I was 22, I was a professional. A young and flawed professional, but not an amateur."

"Every writer I've ever spoken to feels fraudulent in some way or other."

"Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos."

"Everyone I used to play with has either given up or is dead."

"Having just the vision's no solution, everything depends on execution"

"I chose and my world was shaken. So what? The choice may have been mistaken; the choosing was not. You have to move on."

"Generally, the best recording is the original cast, because that's the way the piece grew: integrally, with them."

"Gotta watch out for directors."

"I fell into lyric writing because of music. I backed into it."

"I like to speak in hyperbole. It’s my favorite language."

"I firmly believe lyrics have to breathe and give the audience's ear a chance to understand what's going on. Particularly in the theater, where you have costume, story, acting, orchestra."

"I did not have an unhappy time, because it literally did not occur to me that other people had a family life. I saw my parents occasionally at night and on weekends, and I thought every child in New York lived that way."

"I don't listen to recordings of my songs. I don't avoid it, I just don't go out of my way to do it."

"I prefer neurotic people. I like to hear rumblings beneath the surface."

"I played the organ when I went to military school, when I was 10. They had a huge organ, the second-largest pipe organ in New York State. I loved all the buttons and the gadgets. I've always been a gadget man."

"I read to see myself in other people's lives."

"I really don't want to write a score until the whole show is cast and staged."

"If I cannot fly, let me sing."

"If people have split views about your work, I think it's flattering. I'd rather have them feel something about it than dismiss it."

"I was raised to be charming, not sincere."

"If you're dealing with a musical in which you're trying to tell a story, it's got to sound like speech. At the same time it's got to be a song."

"In the Rodgers and Hammerstein generation, popular hits came out of shows and movies."

"I would have been a geologist."

"It ain't just a question of misunderstood, Deep down inside him, he's no good"

"Lenny Bernstein had a 12 room apartment at the Dakota. It was all big, spacious rooms inside this old-style New York City building that looked like a castle. But his studio, ... it was the size of a throw rug with a window that looked out on an airshaft. No distractions.... There was nothing to do there but work."

"Let me sing."