When Andrew Lloyd Webber suggested to me that I should team up with Charles Hart to write the libretto for Aspects of Love, I thought to myself “He’s finally snapped”. The idea of two lyricists working together seemed, at first, ludicrous. But Andrew is very astute; the sort of man who could actually figure out how to cancel a Readers Digest subscription!
I wrestled with the idea, and came to the conclusion that it couldn’t work. I mean, I’ve been writing lyrics by myself for a long time. I have my own work pattern. I like to do my writing while walking around Hyde Park or swimming up and down the pool at the RAC club. And I like to write early in the morning. When I first met Charles I gingerly tried to find out how he liked to work and I was taken aback when I learned that he hated walking, loved to sleep late and couldn’t swim!
Once we got our body clocks synchronised we made progress. The most difficult thing for both of us, I’m sure, was to get into the habit of thinking aloud. When you write by yourself you have the luxury of coming up with some really lousy ideas and then secretly rejecting them. But with a collaborator, there is the embarrassment of sharing each others mind-wandering lunacy.
As time when by, we became so attuned that we could change our minds together. Charles is a dedicated theatre enthusiast, opera buff, speaks German and French, and plays piano and violin. I must say I found it stimulating to work with someone who can listen to The William Tell overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger!
What could have been a tortuous experience turned out to be a great deal of fun, and now that our work has been completed, to quote one of the lyrics to the song “Parlez vous Francais?” – Je suis sad.
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