Look, I Made a Hat by Stephen Sondheim

Look, I Made a Hat

After his acclaimed and best-selling Finishing the Hat (named one of the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2010), Stephen Sondheim returns with the second volume of his collected lyrics, Look, I Made a Hat, giving us another remarkable glimpse into the brilliant mind of this living legend, and his life’s work.   Picking up where he left off in Finishing the Hat, Sondheim gives us all the lyrics, along with excluded songs and early drafts, of th...

Details Look, I Made a Hat

TitleLook, I Made a Hat
Release DateNov 22nd, 2011
GenrePlays, Theatre, Nonfiction, Music, Biography

Reviews Look, I Made a Hat

  • Schmacko
    Look, I Made a Hat is only slightly less successful for me than Sondheim’s first book of collected lyrics. I still say Sondheim is the best lyricist the stage has ever seen, and for any stage aficionado, both books are required reading. However, sections of this book are spent on songs that haven’t been recorded, shows that have no music to reference. In that sense, I often had a hard time understanding or loving Sondheim’s work here, strug...
  • Bruce
    Look, I Made a Hat completes the publication of Sondheim’s collected lyrics, picking up where Finishing the Hat left off and then backfilling those gaps in the record Sondheim deemed noteworthy: incidental songs from movies, unproduced shows (including selected examples of juvenilia), and ditties he wrote to fete friends at birthday parties, pageants, and salons. As with the earlier book, Sondheim not only annotates and contextualizes his lyric...
  • Kevin Fanning
    Worth it just for Into the Woods & Assassins. I didn't read the whole thing, I haven't seen Passions and skipped most of the movie section except for Dick Tracy. In some ways this volume feels lighter, but since Sunday, Woods, and Assassins are my favorite Sondheim shows I still liked it more. Interestingly I felt like he was harder on his work in Volume 1. Maybe it's just that he got better as he got older? Or is it that the shows aren't as old?...
  • Alex Nagler
    He's God. I mean the man's a God. He wrote the book to Sweeney Todd with a nod to De Sade.
    The Maestro wrote this erudite book, making it literate, engaging and terribly informative. Even sort-of Sondheim enthusiasts should have this book; for the rest of us it's a must. Predecessor volume: Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics, 1954-1981, With Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines, and Anecdotes. --
  • willaful
    I didn't read this as thoroughly as the first volume, because I'm only familiar with two shows in it ("Into the Woods" and "Candide.") But everything I did read was interesting, though I got a bit more of a grumpy old man vibe rrom this one. Still, a must-read for anyone interested in lyric writing or musical theatre.
  • Craig
    My favorite part of this book was the four chapters talking about his failed musical Road Show. It reads almost like a mystery: can you spot what is wrong with these lyrics? Can you figure out how they're going to fix them, or at least try? What new problems will that cause? It gives (part of) this book something of a plot, and was the only time in either volume I found myself wanting to read the next chapter right away, to find out what happens ...
  • Alicia
    See the review I gave for Finishing the Hat. This one especially stands out for me because it deals with three of my favorite musicals (OF ALL TIME): Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods and Assassins. Seeing how much work is crafted in to every lyric only deepened my (already deep) appreciation for these works of art. I also absolutely loved all of Sondheim’s behind-the-scene stories; he has a wonderfully dry and funny sense of humor...
  • Brendan
    Okay, I didn't read all the lyrics, but Sondheim's insights about writing, story-telling, and theatre were wonderful. I need to read the first book now, but I think I'm going to make the three maxims he listed a core of my writing. It helps that "Less is More" already is part of them.
    Not as engaging as the first book, if only because the musicals being featured are not as compelling as the early works (with the exception of Passion, Sondheim's last Masterpiece).
  • Rick Berdelle
    Loved learning about Sondheims process and his behind the scenes moments. If you love musicals, you'll love this book.
  • Abby
    Great to have this insider perspective on his own work and the industry as a whole.
  • Ilyse
    This is excellent for use in research. As in most celebrity writings, I sometimes wonder what I am supposed to think of this person.
  • Melody
    I rated the first volume of this 5 stars before I finished it 2 or 3 years ago - I wanted to save the final Merrily We Roll Along chapter until I'd experienced that show as a whole (no cast recording could ever hope to capture the story there - fortunately now we have the Digital Theatre production which stands up there with the 80s/90s James Lapine productions of Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods and Passion recorded for PBS). When ...
  • Michael Stevens
    This review is for both Volume 1 ("Finishing the Hat" and Volume 2 ("Look I Made a Hat") of Stephen Sondheim's reflections and commentary on his lyrics.These are necessary tools for any serious theatre-goer who wants to fully understand Sondheim's body of work. It is not overstating to say that Sondheim is to American musical theatre what Tennesse Williams is to American Drama: ocassionally dark and always provocative and smart. Obviously the fla...
  • Gretchen
    Look, I Made a Hat is the second volume in Stephen Sondheim's collection of lyrics. This installment gives us his newest musicals (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Assassins, and Passion), as well the much-revised Wise Guys and songs written for movies and special occasions. I enjoyed this installment almost as much as the first one. The first book is entirely musicals, which I enjoyed because it makes it easy to get into the lyric...
  • Bookworm1858
    After finishing the first book Finishing the Hat, I was beyond excited to get my hands on this second book, which features a string of awesomeness, if not popular successes: Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Wood, and Assassins (my personal favorite Sondheim). And those sections were great. I loved finding out their origins and following their development. I was already pretty familiar with most of the lyrics but reading them over brought ...
  • Stuart
    Extremely interesting on the process of lyric writing and the sheer amount of effort that goes into the writing of a musical - a bull-headed refusal to be beaten seems to be the primary attribute required. I have to say though that his interruptions with anecdotes and digressions were by far the most entertaining and interesting part of the book - in fact, I would have preferred a straight memoir or book about the art of lyric writing with a few ...
  • Julie
    The first volume followed Sondheim’s career from the beginning to 1980, and so it benefitted from the logical progression and growth of his experiences. This second one was a little less compelling for me because, although it contains two of my favorites (Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park), there is also a long section on the various iterations of Road Show plus bits and pieces from musicals that were never made, and individual songs for mo...
  • Daniel
    This and his previous volume, Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics, 1954-1981, With Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines, and Anecdotes are a must for any serious student or fan of Stephen Sondheim. The sidebars are fewer in this volume, but there's a lot of odds and ends, plus a fascinating chapter where you see a musical evolve through several workshops and productions.
  • Marcella
    I love Sondheim, in that his hits far outweigh his misses for me. The main problem with this book is the format: it is huge, heavy, and the typeface is tiny. It cannot be read in bed if you don't want to be crushed to death. I feel like it is intended to be put on a special stand with a pair of magnifying glasses so you can actually read the text, like the OED. Perhaps this is how the two tomes of his work will be beatified one day. I did really ...
  • Kathy
    The tone of this second volume seemed to me a bit more reflective, and even regretful in places. But there was still plenty of Mr. Sondheim's wit and some fascinating recollections of the talented people he knew and worked with. The section about the work that became Road Show had an interesting feature for me: it started out interesting in the first incarnation, dragged through the permutations of Bounce, and then became really absorbing by the ...
  • Jarrah
    I read the first part of Stephen Sondheim’s collected lyrics (“with attendant comments, principles, heresies, grudges, whines and anecdotes”) about a year ago and eagerly awaited this second (planned to be concluding) volume. Like the first book, you won’t get much out of this unless you’re a fan of musical theatre or poetry/lyric writing. I found it difficult to make myself read through lyrics of shows I hadn’t seen, but I really enj...
  • Rachel
    A lyrics writer can learn all she needs to know just by reading the footnotes in this magnificent memoir/teaching manual by the master lyricist of our tim. Stephen Sondheim is generous in sharing not only the way he arrived at his successes, but mistakes along the way, illuminating the difficult process of shaping words to music in a song in such a way as to make it memorable and singable (if you're Mandy Patinkin or Bernadette Peters anyway). Br...
  • Steve Carroll
    A worthy successor to the first volume which feature three of my all-time favorites (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Assassins). I thought the case study of the 4 different versions of WiseGuys/Bounce/RoadShow was a really interesting case study in artistic problem solving. Sondheim is brilliant and it's fantastic that he left the analysis, advice, etc behind to future generations.
  • Greg Kerestan
    Just like the first volume, "Finishing the Hat," this is a highly essential read for both theatre fans and creative writers, as the notoriously brilliant but prickly Stephen Sondheim explores his complete works while giving an object lesson in the creative process. Casual fans are most likely to know this volume, as it contains "Into the Woods," possibly his most popular mainstream show (with "Sweeney Todd," from the first volume, in second place...
  • Karen
    Not as fascinating as the first book, but still interesting. Like the first time, I didn't actually read the lyrics, but just read the intro, the stand alone essays and some of the comments/anecdotes scattered throughout the book. What incredible experiences he's had. The book well reflects the collaborative nature of creating a show for the musical theater. I also liked his three listed principles and reflecting on how well they apply to other a...
  • Abigail
    If you are any kind of musical theatre geek, this is a must-read. I love some Sondheim shows more than others, but having his insight and some of his anecdotes make going back through his lyrics such a great experience. Definitely start with his first volume "Finishing the Hat," but continue to this one, it's worth it. Not only does he address some of his more famous shows, but shows that were never produced, show that went through multiple incar...
  • Gretchen
    Volume 2 doesn't succeed as well for me as volume 1. I think part of this is because there is more time spent on items outside of the theatre or on a show that still has not seen the light of day.That said, Sondheim is one of the greatest living writers in the US. What he can do with a lyric to explain feeling, character, tone, and setting is remarkable. This books, together with volume 1 is a must-have for anyone who likes to play with words.
  • Jeff
    Another chance to sit at the feet of the master as he pulls back the curtain on more of his great hits. Particularly instructive is his discussion of his working relationship with James Lapine, his analysis of the relationship between music and language in Passion, and long gestation of what became Road Show.