Monday, October 19, 2009

Music Monday/Lyric Lundi

I love to listen to music while I cook. The two go so very nicely together, the way a delicious aged wine goes with a delicious aged cheese. Recently, I was busy cooking up a chicken and mushroom stir fry and decided Fred Astaire would go nicely with that -- some very light dance steps (in my imagination. I would never pretend to be able to mimic Astaire's light feet) to go with a nice light meal.

I know there are those who think Astaire couldn't sing (they've told me so, while surmising that I'm too enamored of him to be any sort of judge), but who are they kidding? They must not have ever paid attention to the way he is able to add such meaning to the words he sings (and they must never have seen the movie Daddy Long Legs). If you want a perfect example of that, just listen to the way he sings "A Fine Romance," one of my all-time favorites no matter who's singing it, but listen to him, with that wonderfully edgy and perfect mix between sarcasm and longing. I love it -- enough to press the "replay" button over, and over, and over again.

I'm giving you the lyrics, but really, you must hear him sing it. He'll make you long for the days, despite the fact that Cole Porter had come along and insisted "Anything Goes," when women were a little more mysterious and a little harder to get and gentlemen were a little more frustrated and a little more persistent (okay, maybe he won't. But he certainly makes me, the hopelessly incurable, old-fashioned romantic, do so). We will ignore the fact that those were also the days that when, once the man got the woman, she was, more likely than not, doomed to being tied to never-ending housework that bored her out of her mind and a bundle of kids with never-ending needs and an inability to communicate with her husband (not sure what the man was tied to in those days, except maybe 3-martini lunches, golf on the weekends, and extraordinarily unhappy wives who might have -- surprise, surprise -- taken it out on them. Gentlemen, care to enlighten me, if I'm wrong?)

Of course, Astaire doesn't get credit for the brilliant lyrics written by Dorothy Fields (yes, I had to look that up on Wikipedia. I had no idea who wrote this song). Her lines are priceless. I especially love the ones about the Ile de France and the seals in the Arctic Ocean who at least flap their fins. Still, he gets credit for brilliantly interpreting their meaning.

A Fine Romance
by Fred Astaire

A fine romance with no kisses
A fine romance, my friend this is
We should be like a couple of hot tomatoes
But you're as cold as yesterday's mashed

A fine romance, you won't nestle
A fine romance, you won't wrestle
You're just as hard to land as the Ile de France
I haven't got a chance, this is a fine romance.

A fine romance, my good woman
My strong, aged-in-the-wood woman
You're calmer than the seals in the Arctic Ocean
At least they flap their fins to express emotion.

A fine romance with no clinches
A fine romance with no pinches
You never give the orchids I send a glance
No, you like cactus plants, this is a fine
Oh boy, what a romance


Stefanie said...

I love Fred Astaire! I've got a CD of songs from his movies and Fine Romance is one of them. He's not the best singer in the world but he always hits the notes and has a certain style and panache that can't be beat!

Emily Barton said...

Stef, why does it not surprise me that you should have such great taste? And you're right about the style and panache.

Bob said...

I offer as counterpoint, another male view, that of one who warns the woman who is mad about him that he is unsuitable for a romantic relationship. It is one of my favorite Broadway ballads, from a musical long forgotten, Mack and Mabel, by Jerry Herman who you will recognize from his better known shows such as La Cage aux Folles and Hello, Dolly. Astaire offers his unrequited love orchids whereas Herman will not send roses…

I won't send roses
Or hold the door
I won't remember
Which dress you wore
My heart is too much in control
The lack of romance in my soul
Will turn you grey, kid
So stay away, kid
Forget my shoulder
When you're in need
Forgetting birthdays
Is guaranteed
And should I love you, you would be
The last to know
I won't send roses
And roses suit you so

My pace is frantic
My temper's cross
With words romantic
I'm at a loss
I'd be the first one to agree
That I'm preoccupied with me
And it's inbred, kid
So keep your head, kid
In me you'll find things
Like guts and nerve
But not the kind of things
That you deserve
And so while there's a fighting chance
Just turn and go
I won't send roses
And roses suit you so.

Emily Barton said...

Bob, what a fantastic song! Thanks for introducing it to me. I have a sneaky feeling that I would love to spend some time with your CD collection.

Anonymous said...

Oh I love this song. It fits right in with my Ella Fitzgerald/big band station on Pandora which I reserve for rainy days.

Emily Barton said...

Sara, I have an Ella Fitgerald Pandora station, too!