I know; I'm a huge cliché when I say "I love Cole Porter." I mean, barring some extreme homophobes or musical snobs who "don't listen to anything that rhymes and has a melody," who ever says they hate Cole Porter? Cole Porter is as American as apple pie, and thus, if you're a music-loving American, chances are you love Cole Porter, even if you don't realize it (which I didn't for years and years, because I didn't know he'd written so many of the great songs I've loved all my life).
Back in the early nineties, I walked into an independent music store (remember those?) in Portland, ME and heard what was clearly David Byrne singing "Don't Fence Me In." What was David Byrne doing singing Cole Porter? I immediately asked the clerk what he was playing, and he handed me this great CD called "Red, Hot, + Blue: A Tribute to Cole Porter" that was produced as an AIDS benefit. It had all kinds of cool artists from the 1970s and '80s giving us their interpretations of various Cole Porter tunes (you can just tell Deborah Harry and Iggy Pop had great fun with "Did You Evah?"). I bought the CD immediately, and although it isn't as easy to wear out a CD as it was to wear out those old 33's, I very nearly did so with that one, listening to it practically every day for months.
That's a great CD; it really is. However, I've decided that really, nobody (but nobody) sings Cole Porter as well as Ella Fitzgerald. If Cole is the apple pie, Ella is the mandatory scoop of vanilla ice cream that makes it pie a la mode. I know, I know: some of you are dying to argue with me. What about Frank Sinatra? What about Fred Astaire? What about (fill in your favorite)? I stand my ground. Nobody can ruin Cole Porter, but some people merely sprinkle some salt and pepper on him and toss him in the oven for half an hour while others are gourmands. Ella is the master gourmand, consistently cooking up Cole in creative and delicious ways.
You may be wondering how I can possibly choose a favorite Cole Porter song. It's simple. I go to the one that I find myself humming most often. Is this really, truly my favorite? Well, today it is. And I love it when everyone does it, from The Jungle Brothers to Frank to Jamie Cullum to, of course, Ella. It's just such a perfect song. However, ask me again next month. That will give me the chance to tell you about some other perfect Cole Porter song.
I Get a Kick out of You
by Cole Porter
My story is much too sad to be told,
but practically everything
leaves me totally cold.
The only exception I know is the case,
when I'm out on a quiet spree,
fighting vainly the old ennui
and I suddenly turn and see,
your fabulous face.
I get no kick from Champagne
Mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all
so tell me why should it be true
that I get a kick
out of you.
Some get a kick from cocaine
I'm sure that if I took even one sniff
that would bore me terrifically too
yet I get a kick out of you
I get a kick every time I see you standing there before me
I get a kick though it's clear to me you obviously don't
I get no kick in a plane
Flying too high
with some guy in the sky is my idea of nothing to do
Yet I get a kick
Out of you