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!

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