In the latest edition of The Village Voice, Michael Musto listed his top 5 Sondheim rhymes – check out the link for his reasons:
1. “When a person’s personality is personable / He shouldn’t oughta sit like a lump / It’s harder than matador coercin’ a bull / To try to get you off of your rump.” – Company
2. “Putting thoughts of you aside in the South of France / Would I think of suicide? Darling, shall we dance?” – Follies
3. “Another chance to disapprove / Another brilliant zinger / Another reason not to move / Another vodka stinger / Aaaaaaaahhhh! I’ll drink to that.” – Company
4. “This is how Samson was shorn / Each in her style a Delilah reborn.” – Follies
5. “The hands on the clock turn, but don’t sing a nocturne just yet.” – A Little Night Music
So what are yours, and why? I might have to think about this for a while before I select mine…
Of those, I think ‘clock turn/nocturne’ is the best. Otherwise, for years I’ve been advocating ‘chameleon/really un-(derneath)’ as his best rhyme.
I think the thing with Sondheim rhyme is that not are they only great as pairs, but they are also great in context, like the entire British Admiral’s part in “Please, Hello”. ‘Enjoy/annoy/destroy’ are perhaps not the most extraordinary set of rhyming words, but put in the context, they are genius.