March 2012 at Musical Cyberspace is all about songs with people’s names in the title.
In “The Ballad of Czolgosz”, Stephen Sondheim makes ample use of the irony that is threaded throughout Assassins to tell the tale of how Leon Czolgosz shot United States President William McKinley at the 1901 Pan American Exposition. Using the idea that the have-nots of the United States can work their way to the ‘head of the line’ to get what they need, Sondheim places Czolgosz in the line of people waiting to shake McKinley’s hand at the Temple of Music Pavilion and when he gets to the head of that literal line, he shoots and kills him. Chilling stuff.
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