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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Oh, Mr Porter!

This afternoon, by a lucky chance, I happened to switch on the radio in time to hear Ella Fitzgerald's glorious voice singing We'll Take Manhattan. Nobody sings it like her. Nobody sings anything like her - and I write this as a fan of the Foo Fighters and others. I always used to think that this song, like so many of Cole Porter's other songs, was a light, delicate bubble of romance; straight-faced and conventional, if one can use such a drab word about such a masterpiece.
Yet in recent years, I attended more closely to the lyrics and found it wry, witty, sarcastic and yet still utterly romantic. Those immaculate lines 'And tell me what street, compares with Mott Street in July?' can perhaps be best appreciated when you have struggled to find a table for dim sum in  the centre of New York's Chinatown in the sweltering summer heat. But once you get the joke, you never hear the song in the same way. You probably knew all this already - pardon me for being a late developer in some matters. If you didn't know, I beseech you to call up Ella singing Porter on Spotify or wherever you can and listen out for the humour. It's there not only in the words but in the way they are put together. Now that's really style!

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