Horowitz asked Sondheim about the genesis of the song that Sondheim has called his favorite, an Act I number from Pacific Overtures called “Someone in a Tree,” which describes a treaty signing surreptitiously witnessed by a boy in a tree and overheard by a warrior hidden under the floor of the treaty house. (The KennedyCenter is scheduled to stage a Japanese production of Pacific Overtures in September.) But the song is really about how the mosaic of history is pieced together from fragments of memory. It has a propulsive flow, beginning as a quiet trickle and building like a river until it finally crests in some of Sondheim’s most profound lyrics:
It’s the fragment, not the day.
It’s the pebble, not the stream.
It’s the ripple, not the sea
That is happening.
Not the building but the beam,
Not the garden but the stone,
Only cups of tea