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