Howard's "Rhyming Dictionary"?

Hey guys, I've been a long-time admirer of Howard's lyrical genius as a musician (more on what he's meant to me at a later time), however, in a post from a letter that Howard had written he confessed that had "beaten his rhyming dictionary to a pulp" in search of a proper rhyme for "junior" while writing "Little Shop". I was wondering if any of his friends, or perhaps even his fabulous sister, Sarah, might know what rhyming dictionary it was that Howard consulted more often than not? Rhyming dictionaries very often are set up differently depending upon the editor, while some are more intuitive than others. The dictionary I had, which was a hand-me-down has from many years back had finally given up the ghost, so I'd like to look for a new one. It'd mean a great deal to me if it was the same dictionary as what was used by Howard. I actually used to keep my former dictionary on my piano next to a beautiful photograph of Howard that I had printed out and framed.

Take Care,


  • Hmmm....just thought I'd clarify. No, I don't mean that I want the literal/ physical dictionary that Howard owned and held in his hands (that would be rude of me, LOL!), but the title, name of the editor, publisher, and copyright date. Gods, I hope that doesn't make me sound like a snob? I'm actually working on the bibliography for a book that I've written about plant folklore, sooo.....those details are fresh on my mind.
  • I am looking at the real/physical dictionary right now. It's Wood's New World Unabridged Rhyming Dictionary by Clement Wood (18th printing, 1977). We gave it to Howard's beloved agent, Esther Sherman, after Howard died. When Esther, too, died only a year after Howard, her family kindly gave it back to us.
  • As I think I've told you, Sarah, Howard wasn't the only great lyricist to use the Clement Wood-- Cole Porter, Sondheim, Sheldon Harnick and other have claimed to live by it. (I use it, too. I probably should just use a computer, but since I write with a yellow pad and pencil to jot down ideas, good lines, rhymes and whatnot, having a physical book to help my brain is useful.)

    The Clement Wood is back in print, by the way. Any budding songwriter ought to get a copy! It's terrific!
  • I'm sure Howard knew about at least some of those who used the Clement book. He was an admirer of all you mentioned, of course.
  • Oh, wow! Another synchronicity that makes me feel somewhat close to Howard, since I remember him on my birthday every year: 14 March. But, this edition of the Clement Wood book was published the year I was born in '77. I probably have mentioned it elsewhere, but Howard's lyrics in "The Little Mermaid" always spoke to as a young Gay boy of around 12 or 13. I even studied music in college because of those musicals, as well as with a brilliant voice teacher! So, they had an enduring impact, and I have always felt a certain connection with him, despite his famous temper. I keep mine under lock, stock, and barrel. I, ugh....inherited it from my Dad and he blew up at a local city hall meeting when they choose another sanitation service. I was embarrassed, ducked out, and pretended like I didn't know him, LOL!
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