Tuesday, April 14, 2009

#88: You're The Top

You're the top!
You're Mahatma Gandhi.
You're the top!
You're Napoleon Brandy.
You're the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
You're the National Gallery
You're Garbo's salary,
You're cellophane.
You're sublime,
You're a turkey dinner,
You're the time
Of a Derby winner
I'm a toy balloon that is fated soon to pop
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

What was considered cool in 1934? Cole Porter'll tell you -- in rhyme, no less. Written first on a lark (it reads like it was penned as a party-game, doesn't it?) and then adapted for the musical "Anything Goes," satirists have rewritten the lyrics many times over to fit every occasion. Ethel Merman has sung this name-dropper with everyone from Bing Crosby to Kermit the Frog, but here's a version with Frank Sinatra. (Those are two people you don't usually think of in the same sentence.) Or try Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole. Or Cary Grant, playing an extremely flattering and sanitized version of the Indiana-born, Yale-educated composer in a 1946 biopic. Then see this footnoted version of the lyrics from Slate.com to get the skinny on Porter's famous list.

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