To anyone who isn’t a musicologist, or hasn’t seen any Fred Astaire and Ginger Roger movies, Cole Porter is probably unknown, but he should be. The number of songs he wrote is staggering, and most of them were driven by his personal life. Porter once said of his music, “I wanted every kind of love that was available, but I could never find them in the same person, or the same sex.” His purity of heart, his embrace of romance, and impossibly clever lyrics and tune, however, resonated with everyone. He traveled between worlds: Gay and straight, European and Yankee America, Broadway and Hollywood, show biz and high society. He loved his wife and had a lifelong love affair with her, but he also had lifelong love affairs that were not with her. Though his legs were crushed by a horse that fell on him, still he composed magic in spite of daily pain.
We would be hard pressed to name his most popular tunes; he did, after all, compose more than 1,200 songs for the stage and screen. Though Porter passed away in 1964, new generations have been trying his lyrics on for size. They include Elvis Costello, Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, the late Natalie Cole, Robbie Williams, and Diana Krall. His most recorded song was Night and Day, and that’s the song we share below, first by U2:
The version sung by Fred Astaire sounds like a completely different song. Enjoy it ove clips of him and Ginger weaving their magic:
In Yale, he wrote a song called, Bulldog” which became a cheerleading exhortation sung to this day. Was he a dog man? “Jezebel,” his Dachshund probably thought so.