Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hey Porter, thanks for that song

Thank you, Cole Porter, for writing one of the greatest songs our ears have ever cozied up to.  We're not sure why you always said you needed the sheet music to play it.  It was your song, after all. You reportedly wrote it in the bar at the Ritz in Paris.  Come to think of it, maybe that's why you didn't remember it.

You wrote so many incredible songs it probably would have been difficult for you to pick a personal favorite. Not a problem for us. We're going to call it one of the best tunes of the Swing Era, right up there with "Take the A Train" and "In the Mood."  Yes sir, "Begin the Beguine" was and still is a sweetheart of a song.

Scores of artists have covered it, even rockers like Pete Townshend and Sheryl Crow, but by far our favorite is the 1938 recording that catapulted Artie Shaw and his Orchestra to stardom.  We never paid much attention to the lyrics, even when Ella Fitzgerald was singing the song. We just wanted to hear Artie's clarinet.  And we still do. Here's hoping you do too.

It's hard to believe you've been gone for 64 years now. That's right, you would have been 119 years old today. We read somewhere that you weren't all that enamored by "Begin the Beguine," and when you finally ran into Artie Shaw, who had become a big star because of your song, you gave him the ultimate compliment by calling him your "collaborator."  And Artie asked if that meant he should get half the royalties.

And we think he probably should have. It was Shaw who insisted that Bluebird allow him to record the song, even if it was as a B side to "Indian Love Call."   The thing about B sides is they're only a flip away. Listeners will decide if they're worth it, and listeners in this case decided it was the most popular song of 1938.  We're ready to take up ballroom dancing every time we hear it.


  1. Cole Porter was a great song writer, what an asset to society he was! In "The Mood is one of my favs by him. Also "You do something to me", and how about his song "I've got you under my skin, sang and made famous by non other than Frank Sinatra.
    I Love those old songs...their words had such meaning...... ohhhh I think I feel like singing.
    Alot of singers made big bucks singing a great song....but do people really remember the person behind the scenes......the writers of the songs we learn to Love?????
    My hats off to all the great writers of all the songs, past, present and future, without them...we wouldn't have music to enjoy........