Every so often, for reasons I can’t fully understand, I feel compelled to rent an old musical. The plots are ludicrous, the acting is over-the-top, and the dialogue is just a means of getting from one song to the next. But the dancing is awesome and the music is great.
There’s something about the look of those movies, the elaborate sets, even the way they talked, that just seems so darned hopeful. If historians in the year 3011 have no record of the 20th Century other than the big movie musicals of the 1920s through the 1950s, they will have to conclude that those years were among the happiest and most magical in all of human history.
In reality, of course, those decades had their share of tough times. But maybe prohibition, the depression, the war, and the prospect of nuclear annihilation made people crave the movie musical even more. Whatever it is, I find that watching Fred and Ginger float across the screen to a piece of music by Cole Porter is enough to convince me that the world is alright.
This song was written for the 1936 musical “Anything Goes”. Since then, it’s been recorded by various people, but I’m posting the remix by British electro-jazz outfit Cinematic Orchestra, because it manages to capture the spirit of the original while infusing it with the bittersweet feeling of nostalgia one gets when watching those old musicals.
What makes this a beautiful song:
1. The sound of the needle being placed on the record to open the song. Probably done purely for nostalgia’s sake, but effective nonetheless.
2. The lyrics. How many beautiful songs can you name that contain references to cocaine? Interestingly, that line was changed to “Some like the perfume in Spain” when the movie version was made. Not sure if that’s supposed to mean a Spanish cologne or the smell of Spain generally, but I prefer the cocaine version.
3. The original piano is still audible behind the Cinematic Orchestra’s acoustic guitar. At the end, the guitar drops out, leaving the original piano to wrap the song up. Somehow it gives me the mental image of an old barkeep putting up the stools at the end of the night.
Recommended listening activity:
Drinking something from a Martini glass, even if it’s not a Martini.