Cole Porter died in 1964 but it seems back in 1991 the world celebrated his 100th birthday in a big way! There are at least 7.2 trillion Cole Porter centennial collection CDs. (Hyperbole? What’s that?) Happily a friend posted a video of one of his favorite songs on Facebook. From the 1930 musical “The New Yorkers,” here’s Lee Wiley singing “Let’s Fly Away.”
That song only seems to appear on the 1992 3-disc set “You’re The Top: Cole Porter in the 1930’s – Cole Porter Centennial Collection.” This set focuses on Porter’s most prolific decade. It contains a lot of songs I’ve never heard. For example here’s a nifty video I found of another song from this collection. It’s from the movie “Broadway Melody 1940.” Fred Astaire and George Murphy performing “Please Don’t Monkey With Broadway.”
I sure wish I was going to New York freakin’ City man! I don’t have a complete “B Goes to NYC” plan in place yet but I’m working on it. Tell me what you think so far:
1. Purchase straw hat, red gingham shirt, and one button overalls
2. Practice hanging onto my hat and gazing up in slack jawed wonder at the tall buildings.
That’s all I have so far but if I can just work in “befriend a street wise orphan and a hooker with a heart of gold,” I think I might just have a recipe for success!
Here’s Fred Astaire singing “Puttin’ On The Ritz.” I like it because we get to see Fred dance.
I stumbled across the movie “Top Hat” today. I’d seen clips before but never the whole thing. It led me to about 3 other Astaire films I’d never seen plus a bonus Yule Brenner flick! Best single chick Valentines Day ever!
I wanted to post some Cab Calloway. He’s one of my favorites and we haven’t heard from him yet. The clip is from the 1943 musical “Stormy Weather” and the song is called “Jumpin Jive.” It features my all time favorite tap dancers the Nicholas Brothers.
We are bracing for stormy weather around here. The forecast says 9-12 more inches of snow expected over night. I have decided to give winter my two week notice and then I’m resigning!
“Steppin’ Out: Astaire Sings” From 1945 to 1957 Norman Granz produced a series of concerts called Jazz At The Philharmonic (JATP). Fred was their featured artist on one of the 1952 tours and the recordings were taken from those performances. Granz was Oscar Peterson’s manager for most of his professional career but in 1952 they were just at the beginning of their working relationship. Internet music experts agree that the Peterson/Granz collaboration gave Fred an opportunity to really stretch as a vocalist. There are no songs from this album on YouTube that I could find, but here’s a song medley from Fred’s 1958 TV special “An Evening With Fred Astaire.” Almost all the songs in this medley are on the album. I think you can still hear the influence of the JATP experience in Fred’s phrasing here. Oh and there’s an extra bonus number on this clip too!
WARNING: In this section I shall be divulging a shocking and repulsive secret that I have kept hidden for three decades. Look away now if you have weakness in your stomach or heart.
I think Fred Astaire was one of the greatest dancers who ever lived. No, that’s not the shameful part. For several years in my early adolescence though, if you had asked me, I’d have said I preferred Gene Kelly. No shame in that either. Gene was also an amazing talent. My cousin and I had an ongoing Kelly/Astaire debate and I had what I felt was the definitive “Kelly is better” argument:
1. Gene is cuter.
2. He made more color movies than Fred. (I have no idea if that’s true but it seemed right to me.)
3. “Singing In The Rain” was like, totally tubular! (It was the 80’s. We were required by law to talk like that.)
Okay, perhaps it wasn’t the most cogent argument but I did win the debate. More importantly, I won it without having to reveal the horrifying, nauseating truth behind my early 80’s Gene Kelly preference. “Xanadu” yes, the 1980 Olivia Newton John stinkburger “Xanadu.” I tuned in our one and only cable channel one day and recorded it on the Betamax. I played the tape over and over until I wore it out. I loved that movie so much that it caused me to declare that Gene Kelly was the greatest dancer of all time simply because he was in it. If you must judge me gentle reader, pray judge with mercy. After all, hath not a “Xanadu” fan eyes? If you prick us do we not bleed? If you give us satin shorts and skates do we not roller disco?
I have been watching some amazing tap dance clips on YouTube because I love tap. There’s a great Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell dance number that makes my upper lip sweat with awesome but I couldn’t find it to post. There were so many great moments out there that I was hard pressed to find one replacement. This early Sammy Davis Jr number finally won on strength of cuteness. I’d give my eye teeth to know where it’s from.
I wanted tap dancing lessons as a kid. Tap lessons were surprisingly expensive so Mom signed me up for ballet. I was a fat kid stuffed in a pink leotard and tutu. I looked like a vienna sausage and I was about half as graceful. Mercifully the lessons didn’t last long. I never did get my tap lessons which is probably a good thing. Now I can pretend I would have been great at it without pesky truth interfering with my delusion.