- Company (song)
"Company" is the title song from the Broadway musical, Company. It was written by Stephen Sondheim. The song is the introductory song of the show. It is sung by the main character, Robert, and the full company in the first act, and reprised in a curtain call finale.
“Company,” one of Sondheim’s lesser-performed songs, relies heavily on rhythm and tempo with a simple melody, greatly enhanced by a rock beat in its orchestration. The motif used throughout the entire score of Company begins here, inspired by a telephone’s “busy” signal (a common, everyday auditory tool used prior to the advent of cellphones. [The busy signal is used in recordings of the song]). The “Bobby, Bobby bubi, Robby, Robert darling” motif is a pulse of staccato and repetitive sound as voiced by the show’s couples -- first calling to Robert (the main character) by his legal name, and then by various nicknames and pet names -- segueing into conversational exclamations and endearments. Then at last the entire chorus of “married friends” mutually invite Bobby to “come on over for dinner! We’ll be so glad to see you! Bobby come on over for dinner...just be the three of us, only the three of us!”
The main body of the song is introduced in Robert’s solo. The lyrics he sings describe everyday and comforting things associated with friends or “company:”
“Phone rings, door chimes, in comes company.”
Robert’s solo segues into the couples reiterating their endearments at length, making appointments with “Robert, Bobby, Robbie darling” for concerts, blind double dates, the opera, exclaiming in chorus the questions and, simultaneously, voicing the many loving concerns typical among friends. And all of this escalates into a drawn-out, breathless “We Looovvveee You,” climaxing as the main character and his “company” echo their mutual sentiments. The couples and their unmarried friend all agree that the labors and gestures affiliated with company are glorious.
“Company” is a multi-leveled choral number, a positive testament to the good things in life. With the exception of hating the opera, there is not a single pessimistic or negative sentiment affiliated with the song. The lyrics sing about “love, filling the days,” “love, seventy ways.” Typical for a Sondheim opening number since A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, “Company” sets the tone for a modern musical comedy with a mature theme that is a commentary of 1970 adult problems. The entire score, but specifically the opening number debated here, makes undeniable the fact that this composer has a unique, individual approach to the tenets of composition. "Company" dissects the cacophony made by a room full of chatterers and organizes it into a discernible, audible song form.
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