So What Does Rhyme With ‘Sondheim’?

In his memoir Nice Work If You Can Get It Michael Feinstein tells of performing Ray Jessel’s Wanna Sing a Show Tune for an audience that included Stephen Sondheim.  The song contains the following – ahem – couplet:

“… let me tell you how fond I’m / of anything by Berlin or Rodgers or Sondheim”

Sondheim reportedly put his head in his hands the second he heard the name-check coming, and there his head remained until well after the song was over.

Sure, the rhyme’s not perfect (where’s the “h”?), but I think what really caused him physical pain was the syntactic inversion (Ira Gershwin did it with “I’m bidin’ my time / ‘cos that’s the kinda guy I’m”).

Which leaves this challenge: how to rhyme ‘Sondheim’ without omitting any sounds?  That’s a two-syllable rhyme, emphasis on the first syllable. And no syntactic inversions!  I’m sorry to say that my solution is ribald:

I’ve had blonde hymen and Grande hymen, / But beyond hymen is Sondheimmin’.


14 thoughts on “So What Does Rhyme With ‘Sondheim’?

  1. This is cheating on at least two points, I think. The romantic lead sings of the object of his affections, an icy German blonde who performed an impromptu trachaeotomy in an earlier scene:

    She’s got a grasp of first-aid which is beyond Heimlich,
    Her taste in musicals is jaded and Sondheimlich.

    • Not cheating at all. It just needs an umlaut somewhere.
      David Zippel mentions a “Sondheimlich maneuver” in the score for “The Goodbye Girl”, but that’s a mere pun. You’ve easily outdone him.

        • I was hearing it as:

          She’s got a GRASP of first-aid WHICH is beyond HEIMlich
          Her taste in MUsicals is JAded and sondHEIMlich

          Which is pretty indefensible.

          Putting it in 3s and giving it a Gen-Y emphasis is a definite improvement.

          This reminds me of the little-known Unheimlich manoeuvre, pioneered by Sigmund Freud: if someone is choking, you startle them with a psychological analysis which casts their childhood into a strange and uncanny new light, and they cough whatever it was up.

  2. And of course, there’s this:

    Oh, those long winter evenings in Trondheim,
    When we’d listen to Wagner and Sondheim…

    (I have been dealing with a particularly stubborn software bug this week, it’s so motivating.)

    • Hmmm … provided the singer anglicizes the pronunciation of Trondheim ( I believe it sounds something like ‘Tronyem’ in German). Or they could Germanify the pronunciation of ‘Sondheim’.

      Of course, all I can think of now is operas written by Wagner and Sondheim: Into the Rhine, Sunday in the Park with Siegfried, Parsifollies …

    • I’d love to let you have this, but it’s a two-syllable challenge – otherwise it’s too easy.

      An Australian writer accepts his Tony:

      Thanks for having me over the pond – Hi, Mother!
      I love this attention!
      Gosh, I want to thank Herman and Sondheim, other
      writers – too many to mention.

  3. ..she studied the songs, she was a sondheimologist
    ..he studied her, he was a gynocologist.

    Im a geologist dammit not a songwriter…

  4. There are some ‘German’ words that could be used? Why not? Ira Gershwin did it with ‘french’ words!

    Stammheim (family home)

    Bergheim (mountain home)

    By the way do visit my blog for a post on Sondheim 🙂

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