“Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd
His skin was pale and his eye was odd
He shaved the faces of gentlemen
Who never thereafter were heard of again
He trod a path that few have trod
Did Sweeney Todd
The demon barber of Fleet Street
- - -
Swing your razor wide, Sweeney
Hold it to the skies
Freely flows the blood
Of those who moralize”
Stephen Sondheim, “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd”
I feel like Stephen Sondheim is perhaps one of the best lyricists of all time, and Sweeney Todd is in many ways his greatest work. Seemed like a good time of the year to post a line or two. This song didn’t (lyrically) make it into the film version… while it is one of my favorites, I can see why they left it out since it doesn’t quite fit a good narrative structure for film. I thought Burton, Depp, Carter, Cohen and Rickman all brought their A-games for this one, and as it was approved by Sondheim himself, I was quite happy with it, a few nitpicks aside.
Correct me if I’m wrong, however, I think that the most renowned version is the stage production that included Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett. If you are a fan, you should seek out this recording (which is available on amazon) for the original experience.