If Paul Would Get Married

to the tune of If Momma Was Married, by Stephen Sondheim and Jules Styne

A group of us performed this as part of a show at Paul Lazarus’s wedding. Way too many inside jokes to even begin to explain. Most of the song was sung by Paul’s brothers. The second A section was sung by his mother. Actually, someone (Marcy Heisler) playing his mother.

If Paul Would Get Married

If Paul would get married, he’d live in a house–
One wife and a couple of mutts.
Let’s make it our mission to find him a spouse,
‘Cause otherwise, Paul’s gonna drive us all nuts.
Paul ought to get married.

If Paul would get married, I’d not even care
If there were a huppa or not.
I wouldn’t care how and I wouldn’t care where.
Just make it a girl—is that asking a lot?
Paul ought to get married.

Hey, Paul, you don’t need a tux.
We know how you feel.
This wedding stuff sucks.
So, Paul, we’re all saying shucks,
It’s time to get real.
We all like our yuks.

Let’s cut to the crux, Paul, walk down the aisle while you can.
A cane to support you,
And dad to exhort you,
And mother to cook and to plan.
Oh, please Paul,
I’ll be your best man!

What’s with all the parodies?

A lot of lyricists write parodies, especially when they’re learning to write lyrics. It’s fun, and when they’re good, people like them and they’re fun to sing at parties and such. I made a little splash with my first parody, Send in the Clowns, which I wrote when I was in college. Maury Yeston was my music theory professor and mentor, and he got me Stephen Sondheim’s address and encouraged me to send it to him. Steve loved it, and played it for lots of his friends, and encouraged people to sing it in nightclubs. More than twenty years after I wrote it, Steve still referred to it as his favorite, and he has seen many, many parodies of that song. You can’t make money off parodies (unless they’re in something like Forbidden Broadway), and you have to be careful, because you can’t violate the copyright of the underlying authors. But if you’re just writing and performing them for fun, well, they’re fun!

To Keep From Being Bored

a parody of To Keep My Love Alive, by Rodgers and Hart

For his 70th birthday in 2000, I wanted to write a parody for Stephen Sondheim, worthy of the ones he had written for others, most especially The Saga of Lenny, for Leonard Bernstein’s 70th birthday. Steve displayed my parody of Send in the Clowns on his bulletin board in his office, and I wanted him to add another. There are a lot of inside jokes here. Sondheim and Bernstein used to play anagrams to relieve the tension during the creation of West Side Story. Steve told me that Lenny could never beat him, except once, a few weeks before he died. Steve said it may have hastened his death. The breaking harmonicas line is an anagram joke (hah-hah), because Steve had used harmonicas-maraschino in an old cryptic puzzle clue. There are other obscure references, too, but it’s hard to explain them all! Anyway, I sent the parody to Steve, there being no occasion when I could actually sing it to him, and he wrote me back, thanking me, and telling me he hung it next to Send in the Clams!

To Keep From Being Bored

No reprises, no sequels, no prequels, no dice!
Steve Sondheim would never do anything twice.
The reason’s quite simple–he’s got to move on.
And so even right now, he’s suppressing a yawn . . .

He’s written many shows–a ton of them.
Repeat himself, he does in none of them.
In fact, we hear he chose each one of them
To keep from being bored.

It’s basically he finds anxiety
More stimulating than propriety.
His jones is that he craves variety,
To keep from being bored.

They say that Steve’s competitive.
Well, here’s another take.
He might just need adrenaline
To keep himself awake.

This song is part homage and part attack.
The tune may not be all that smart a tack.
We figured he would need a Hart attack
To keep from being bored.
To keep from being bored.

A lyricist of such precocity,
A prisoner of curiosity,
Will usually evince verbosity
To keep from being bored.

In retrospect it makes you sick you let
Maria be as damned articulate
As any Ivy League matriculate,
To keep from being bored.

Said Lenny, “Let’s play anagrams.
I’m second best to none.”
True, Lenny did play very well,
And once he even won.

Through Gypsy, Forum, and a Whistle-stop.
The critics wonder when all this’ll stop,
This constant metamorphosis’ll stop.
To keep from being bored.
To keep from being bored.

Oh, do a show that hasn’t got a plot.
A movie–oy–with such a lot of plot.
And in-between you smoke a lot of pot
To keep from being bored.

The record shows you’ve done one spooky one.
And here’s the final count: one kooky one.
And Jesus, even one Kabuki one,
To keep from being bored.

Seurat had possibilities.
That’s mother’s milk to Steve.
A guy who breaks harmonicas
Has lots more up his sleeve.

Some fairy tales, Assassins, Passion, too.
My God, the things that folks put cash into.
And if they flop, well, it’s the fashion to,
To keep from being bored.
To keep from being bored.

The Young Turk’s turning seventy.
Astonishing but true.
The output of your inner quest–
It all still seems so new!

One figures that in any song for you,
A sentimental end rings wrong for you.
The message is, in short, we long for you
To keep from being bored.
Keep US from being bored!

The Ballad of Teddy K

a parody of The Ballad of Sweeney Todd, by Stephen Sondheim

Having enjoyed my parody of Send in the Clowns, a music publisher asked me if I could parody another Sondheim song. It was 1980, and Teddy Kennedy was driving everyone crazy over his inability to commit to running, or not running, for President.

The Ballad of Teddy K

Attend the tale of Teddy K.
His hair is wavy and slightly gray.
He’d be the Democrats fav’rite son
If only someone’d convince him to run.
He plays a game that few can play,
Does Teddy K.,
The younger brother of J. F.

To win support would not be hard.
His party holds him in high regard.
He has the power to take the crown
From President Carter or Governor Brown.
Relinquished on a silver tray,
To Teddy,
To Teddy K.,
The younger brother of J. F.

Raise your banner high, Teddy.
Hold it to the skies.
Be a friend to those who tend to
Idolize!

Attend the tale of Teddy K.
He won’t say yes and he won’t say nay.
He’s got the charm, he’s got the wealth,
He’s got a proposal for national health.
Then through the nose we all can pay
For Teddy,
For Teddy K.,
The younger brother of J. F.

Send in the Clams

a parody of Send in the Clowns, by Stephen Sondheim
sung by a disgruntled diner

Send in the Clams

Isn’t it quiche?
What’s this—a pear?
I ordered Chateaubriand,
Medium rare.
Send in the clams.

Something’s amiss.
I don’t approve.
How can I put in my mouth
These things that move?
And where are the clams?
Send in the clams.

You brought me beer
From foreign shores,
Actually knowing the one that I wanted was Coors.
I ordered dinner tonight,
The usual fare.
You lost my clams,
And don’t seem to care.

Don’t you like tips?
Or can’t you hear?
You thought that I’d eat what you’d eat?
Sorry, my dear.
Send in the clams.
There ought to be clams.
Well, maybe next year.

Isn’t it quiche?
Isn’t it queer?
Losing my appetite for
Dinner, I fear.
And where are the clams?
Quick, send in the clams.
Oh, don’t bother—they’re here.