“Mr. Goldstone, I Love You” from Gypsy

This is the one song from Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim’s Gypsy score that anyone who likes musicals to begin with ever complains about. The problem with the song is that while having Rose burst into song on that first line always gets a big laugh in context, there’s really nowhere for the song to go after that in terms of actual story or character content. For this reason, the entire rest of the lyric is just Rose’s nervous dithering and a lot of random wordplay for its own sake. The final section, with the catalogue of ‘stones’ (“There are good stones, and bad stones, and curbstones and gladstones”) is actually fairly clever, especially in the Angela Lanbury version (where Lansbury recites them as if the character was making them up on the spot), but the first half of the song, which is basically just Rose being a nervous wreck, really is pretty irritating. This song doesn’t compare to the gratuitous wordplay passages in later Sondheim shows, but its real failing is that it’s the only song in Gypsy that doesn’t serve any real purpose and could be cut without anybody noticing, which is a severe let-down in a score that is otherwise so flawlessly integrated and economical. The sometimes annoying lyrics are actually much less of a mark against this song than its status as the only real flaw in one of the most perfect musicals of all time.

Verdict: Bad, essentially, though more for its context in the musical than the song itself.

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