Sondheim: West Side Story Lyrics 'Embarrassing'

He should know ... he wrote them
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2010 9:14 AM CST
Updated Dec 29, 2010 10:46 AM CST

(Newser) – When Stephen Sondheim thinks about the lyrics he wrote for West Side Story—for example, “It’s alarming how charming I feel”—he likes to “put my head under my wing and pretend I’m not there,” he tells Nightline. The universally beloved musical “embarrasses me,” he says. “It's very hard for me to listen to some of those songs,” which he wrote in his early twenties. “I don't mean that they are terrible,” he adds of the lyrics, “I just mean they're so self-conscious.”

Turns out Sondheim, 80, is easily embarrassed. The Tony-, Grammy-, Pulitzer-, and Oscar-winning Broadway legend also uses the word “embarrassing” to describe the praise he received from actress Bernadette Peters (she called him “a walking, living icon”) as well as the naming of a New York City theater after him: “First of all, I've never been fond of my name. 'Sondheim' ... doesn't sing.”

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