For someone like me who listened in his teens to Traffic, Crosby Stills, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Yes, and Pink Floyd, discovering the music of Cole Porter opens up a fresh area of appreciation. It fits with the classic movies of the 1930s and 1940s that I grew to love in the meanwhile.
Among the Broadway composers, Cole Porter was the consummate craftsman. He spent time searching for his mots justes and finally it popped into his head—a phrase like "my pet-pailletted gown". "Thank You So Much Mrs Lowsborough-Goodby" exemplifies his wit. There's such an air of society elegance about it. In some ways Porter inherited the spirit of Gilbert & Sullivan. Another of Cole's witty songs was"I'm a Gigolo."
The song lyric It's Delightful, it's Delicious, it's De-lovely sprang from words exclaimed by Monte Woolley, Cole Porter, and maybe Moss Hart on a cruise ship while approaching the harbor of Rio.
Here is "Every Time We Say Goodbye", sung sweetly by Natalie Cole. Porter's songs ranged from fast and vibrant to ballads like this one.
I discovered Cole Porter's music when I made a CD of Broadway tunes for my baby grandson. I encountered the Sutton Foster / Colin Donnell performances of "You're the Top" and "Anything Goes" from the 2011 revival of Anything Goes. As I read between the lines about "Plymouth Rock" opening this song, I think I hear Cole declaring war on & victory over fundamentalists' condemnation of gays.
It adds excitement to hear them in the context of a Broadway show. I am not a purist—I don't mind that several great songs were dragged in from other Cole Porter shows to be sung in the 2011 Anything Goes revival, which I saw on Youtube here.
Songs like "You're the Top" can be found on Youtube sung by Cole Porter himself. He sings "You're the purple light of a summer night in Spain" in a crisp, elegant voice refreshingly free of over-sentimentality.
We can enjoy the songs better when they are set in their proper context. What are your favorites?
The later music of Cole Porter, from the late 1930s through the early 1950s, can be heard in this playlist on Youtube. It contains selections from
Movie: You'll Never Get Rich (can be seen in its entirety on YouTube)
Broadway musical: Kiss Me Kate (available on CD)
Broadway musical: Silk Stockings (available on CD)
Broadway musical: Can-Can (available on CD)
Movie: Rosalie (available on DVD)
Movie: Broadway Melody of 1940 (available on DVD)