WHOA! Let's analyze that lyric...
Last Edit: GrumpyMorningBoy 02:47 pm EDT 04/17/24
Posted by: GrumpyMorningBoy 02:38 pm EDT 04/17/24
In reply to: Some underrated comic gems - GabbyGerard 02:00 pm EDT 04/17/24

A rooster in a chicken coop is better off ’n men.
He ain’t the special property of just one hen!


I feel like THIS is a perfect example of the unique ways that Hammerstein showed off his gifts. Let's analyze:

A rooster | great. we have an image.

In a chicken coop. | we have a more detailed image, and in case you missed the word 'rooster,' we have some redundancy to make sure you know what we're singing about. But just enough!!! (a rant: this is where many of today's lyricists, in my opinion, fail extra hard -- many of their lyrics are horribly redundant, which makes it seem like they're really just trying to fill the phrase because they couldn't come up with anything better / pithier / more piquant.)

is better off 'n men | Whoa! We have a set up! We lean in... WHY, clever writer, would a rooster be BETTER OFF than a mere rooster, locked up in a chicken coop, no less? We now crave a surprise -- not only for our ear, but for whatever he's about to actually SAY about the status of men.

he ain't the special property | A fucking tremendous choice of words. He could have written something far more on the nose in those 8 syllables. Countless ways he could have used words like 'kept man,' 'ball and chain,' 'whipped' or any other cliches that the audience would be familiar with. Instead, he keeps things absolutely IN THE ERA, in the natural spoken language of these very specific characters, and even adds a tinge of sardonic wry comedy with the word 'special.' Plug in any other two-syllable word you can imagine -- not as good, right? 'Special' sees it from the hen's side. Genius.

of just one hen! | The incredibly quick members in the audience might have guessed this rhyme, but that's why I love the fact that Hammerstein layers in the joke just before the rhyme. It makes the PAYOFF feel like a real meal, instead of a tiny tasty bite.

He follows that pattern often, and it's one reason why his lyrics are just so PLEASING to sit back and take in.

I mean, just damn. The guy could WRITE.

- GMB
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