Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Cole Porter Songbook


Music is best when it is also beautiful poetry.  Nobody does that better, or more witty than Cole Porter.  I was trying to decide a song to use as a poem today, but I couldn't pick just one.  So here are my favorites:

"Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love" is a popular song written in 1928 by Cole Porter. It was introduced in Porter's first Broadway success, the musicalParis (1928) by French chanteuse Irène Bordoni for whom Porter had written the musical as a starring vehicle.

The first of Porter's famous "list songs", it features a string of suggestive and droll comparisons and examples, preposterous pairings and double-entendres, dropping famous names and events, drawing unexpectedly from highbrow and popular culture. Porter was a strong admirer of the Savoy Operas of Gilbert & Sullivan, many of whose stage works featured similar comic list songs.

The first refrain covers human ethnic groups, the second refrain birds, the third refrain marine life, the fourth refrain insects (plus centipedes) and the fifth refrain non-human mammals.

When the little bluebird 
Who has never said a word 

Starts to sing Spring
When the little bluebell 
At the bottom of the dell 
Starts to ring Ding dong Ding dong 
When the little blue clerk 
In the middle of his work 
Starts a tune to the moon up above 
It is nature that is all 
Simply telling us to fall in love 

And that's why birds do it, bees do it 
Even educated fleas do it 
Let's do it, let's fall in love 

Cold Cape Cod clams, 'gainst their wish, do it 
Even lazy jellyfish do it 
Let's do it, let's fall in love 

I've heard that lizards and frogs do it 
Layin' on a rock 
They say that roosters do it 
With a doodle and cock 

Some Argentines, without means do it 
I hear even Boston beans do it 
Let's do it, let's fall in love 

When the little bluebird 
Who has never said a word 
starts to sing Spring spring spring 
When the little bluebell 
At the bottom of the dell 
Starts to ring Ding ding ding 
When the little blue clerk 
In the middle of his work 
Starts a tune 

The most refined lady bugs do it 
When a gentleman calls 
Moths in your rugs they do it 
What's the use of moth balls 

The chimpanzees in the zoos do it, 
Some courageous kangaroos do it 
Let's do it, let's fall in love 

I'm sure sometimes on the sly you do it 
Maybe even you and I might do it 
Let's do it, let's fall in love 

"Night and Day" is a popular song by Cole Porter. It was written for the 1932 musical play Gay Divorce. It is perhaps Porter's most popular contribution to the Great American Songbook and has been recorded by dozens of artists.
Fred Astaire introduced "Night and Day" on stage, and his recording of the song was a #1 hit. He performed it again in the 1934 film version of the show, renamed The Gay Divorcee, and it became one of his signature pieces.
Porter was known to claim, that the Islamic call to worship he heard on a trip to Morocco inspired the song.  Another popular legend has it he was inspired by the Moorish architecture of the Alcazar Hotel in Cleveland HeightsOhio.
The song was so associated with Porter, that when Hollywood first filmed his life story in 1946, the movie was entitled Night and Day.
Night and day, you are the one 

Only you 'neath the moon or under the sun 
Whether near to me or far 
It's no matter, darling, where you are 
I think of you day and night 



Night and day, why is it so 
That this longin' for you follows wherever I go ? 
In the roarin' traffic's boom 
In the silence of my lonely room 
I think of you day and night 



Night and day, under the hide of me 
There's an oh, such a hungry yearnin' burnin' inside of me 
And its torment won't be through 
Till you let me spend my life makin' love to you 
Day and night, night and day 



Night and day, you are the one 
Only you 'neath the moon or under the sun 
Whether near to me or far 
It's no matter, baby, where you are 
I think of you day and night 



Night and day, why is it so 
That this longin' for you follows wherever I go ? 
In the roarin' traffic's boom 
Silence of my lonely room 
I think of you day and night 



Night and day, under the hide of me 
There's an oh, such a hungry burning inside of me 
And its torment won't be through 
Till you let me spend life makin' love to you 
Day and night, night and day

"Anything Goes" is a popular song written by Cole Porter for his musical Anything Goes (1934). Many of the lyrics feature humorous references to various figures of scandal and gossip in Depression-era high society

Times have changed, 
And we've often rewound the clock, 

Since the Puritans got a shock, 
When they landed on Plymouth Rock. 
If today, 
Any shock they should try to stem, 
'Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock, 
Plymouth Rock would land on them. 


In olden days a glimpse of stocking 

Was looked on as something shocking, 
But now, God knows, 
Anything Goes. 


Good authors too who once knew better words, 

Now only use four letter words 
Writing prose, Anything Goes. 


The world has gone mad today 

And good's bad today, 
And black's white today, 
And day's night today, 
When most guys today 
That women prize today 
Are just silly gigolos 
And though I'm not a great romancer 
I know that I'm bound to answer 
When you propose, 
Anything goes 


When grandmama whose age is eighty 

In night clubs is getting matey with gigolo's, 
Anything Goes. 


When mothers pack and leave poor father 

Because they decide they'd rather be tennis pros, 
Anything Goes. 


If driving fast cars you like, 

If low bars you like, 
If old hymns you like, 
If bare limbs you like, 
If Mae West you like 
Or me undressed you like, 
Why, nobody will oppose! 
When every night, 
The set that's smart 
Is intruding in nudist parties in studios, 
Anything Goes. 


The world has gone mad today 

And good's bad today, 
And black's white today, 
And day's night today, 
When most guys today 
That women prize today 
Are just silly gigolos 
And though I'm not a great romancer 
I know that I'm bound to answer 
When you propose, 
Anything goes 


If saying your prayers you like, 

If green pears you like 
If old chairs you like, 
If back stairs you like, 
If love affairs you like 
With young bears you like, 
Why nobody will oppose! 


And though I'm not a great romancer 

And though I'm not a great romancer 
I know that I'm bound to answer 
When you propose, 
Anything goes... 
Anything goes!

You're The Top" is another Cole Porter song from the 1934 musical Anything Goes. It is about a man and a woman who take turns complimenting each other. 

At words poetic, I'm so pathetic 

That I always have found it best, 
Instead of getting 'em off my chest, 
To let 'em rest unexpressed, 
I hate parading my serenading 
As I'll probably miss a bar, 
But if this ditty is not so pretty 
At least it'll tell you 
How great you are. 

You're the top! 
You're the Coliseum. 
You're the top! 
You're the Louver Museum. 
You're a melody from a symphony by Strauss 
You're a Bendel bonnet, 
A Shakespeare's sonnet, 
You're Mickey Mouse. 
You're the Nile, 
You're the Tower of Pisa, 
You're the smile on the Mona Lisa 
I'm a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop, 
But if, baby, I'm the bottom you're the top! 

Your words poetic are not pathetic. 
On the other hand, babe, you shine, 
And I can feel after every line 
A thrill divine 
Down my spine. 
Now gifted humans like Vincent Youmans 
Might think that your song is bad, 
But I got a notion 
I'll second the motion 
And this is what I'm going to add; 

You're the top! 
You're Mahatma Gandhi. 
You're the top! 
You're Napoleon Brandy. 
You're the purple light 
Of a summer night in Spain, 
You're the National Gallery 
You're Garbo's salary, 
You're cellophane. 
You're sublime, 
You're turkey dinner, 
You're the time, the time of a Derby winner 
I'm a toy balloon that's fated soon to pop 
But if, baby, I'm the bottom, 
You're the top! 

You're the top! 
You're an arrow collar 
You're the top! 
You're a Coolidge dollar, 
You're the nimble tread 
Of the feet of Fred Astaire, 
You're an O'Neill drama, 
You're Whistler's mama! 
You're camembert. 
You're a rose, 
You're Inferno's Dante, 
You're the nose 
On the great Durante. 
I'm just in a way, 
As the French would say, "de trop". 
But if, baby, I'm the bottom, 
You're the top! 

You're the top! 
You're a dance in Bali. 
You're the top! 
You're a hot tamale. 
You're an angel, you, 
Simply too, too, too diveen, 
You're a Boticcelli, 
You're Keats, 
You're Shelly! 
You're Ovaltine! 
You're a boom, 
You're the dam at Boulder, 
You're the moon, 
Over Mae West's shoulder, 
I'm the nominee of the G.O.P. 

Or GOP! 

But if, baby, I'm the bottom, 
You're the top! 

You're the top! 
You're a Waldorf salad. 
You're the top! 
You're a Berlin ballad. 
You're the boats that glide 
On the sleepy Zuider Zee, 
You're an old Dutch master, 
You're Lady Astor, 
You're broccoli! 
You're romance, 
You're the steppes of Russia, 
You're the pants, on a Roxy usher, 
I'm a broken doll, a fol-de-rol, a blop, 

But if, baby, I'm the bottom, 
You're the top.

3 comments:

den81164 said...

if you ever get a chance to listen to the benny goodman/peggy lee version of let's do it, you will hear an early version of the song, which includes the mention of "chinks" doing it. it has toned down over the years...

Jay M. said...

It's really cool to see songs that you've been a part of the performance of said songs! Having worked on Anything Goes back in college, this is really cool. His work is so timeless, and just as fun to listen to today as I'm sure it was "back then".
Peace <3
Jay

silvereagle said...

Another interesting post! Love the lyrics of the 'old songs' posted in this manner. Different to see them vs to hear them.

And, as regards the last verse of the last song:
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top.
The young man in the photo can be signing to me or I to him. I will be bottom or top, either way!!!