Wednesday, 21 August 2013

I get a kick out of Cole Porter

Hiya fellas!
So, my fourth exam week in a row is about to be over on Thursday (which is when you can expect a post from me in my movie blog - I'm so glad I'm being able to keep them both!), but tomorrow it turns out I don't have any tests, which means I get to have a couple hours' break today, which is good news for my personal blog!
Okay, so I'm not gonna talk about school. I know how bored you'll be if I complain about everything getting in my nerves right now, so this will be a positive post. About music - what could be better?

"Night and day, you are the one. Only you beneath the moon and under the sun. Night and day, why is it so? That the longing for you follows wherever I go?"

It was not very long ago when I came across Cole Albert Porter. I wish I remembered what was the first song of his I ever listened to, because a lot of his songs are so mainstream right now that sometimes we hear it without ever knowing that it was Porter's creation. But I definitely do remember the one that made me fall in love with his lyrics - the most important part of a song for me - of pure poetry. It was "Anything Goes", from 1934. I remember my shock at the feisty, acid lyrics ("In olden days, a glimpse of stockings was looked on as something shocking, now heaven knows anything goes!") and such a catchy, Broadway-like melody. Little did I know it was a part of a musical, that was later made into a movie written by Sidney Sheldon himself, which, sadly, I have yet to see. But "Anything Goes" was enough to make me want to find out everything there was to know about Cole Porter.

He was born in 1891 (Can you notice my idols getting older and older? I'm ready for medieval kings now), in Peru, Indiana, out of a wealthy family. His musical training started early, with violin and piano classes, encouraged by his mother Kate, who was eager to have a prodigious son. She even falsified his birth records to make him appear as even more of a prodigy. But, the truth is she needn't have done so.

While still at Yale University, majoring in English and minoring in Music, he wrote 300 songs. As a post-grad student at Harvard, he was the president of the glee club. When he got out of university, dropping the last straw at his father's dream of having him become a lawyer, he went on to write Broadway and West End musicals. He enjoyed great success since the 1920s, writing hauntingly beautiful songs for the stage and screen. In time: Cole himself had a fairly good voice, but ultimately his songs outgrew him and were sung by the greatest interpreters who ever lived: Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Fred Astaire, Patti LuPone, Sutton Foster and others.

Porter's homosexuality was an open secret, regardless of his marriage to Linda Lee Thomas, that lasted until her death. There were rumors that she was homosexual too. He enjoyed the night life of New York City along with some of the most picturesque personalities of his day, and he certainly spoke to a more liberal walk of society with his art, proving that Porter was way ahead of his era in many ways. His music, however, touched the hearts of hard-boiled conservatives and fiery liberals alike.

As far as I'm concerned, Cole Porter is the greatest composer who ever lived. He himself was responsible for lyrics and music of all of his songs, all with optimal quality. I consistently baffle myself with the richness of his words and with melodies so accessible and universal. In addition, it seems to me that he knew people a lot like me in his day. In his songs he describes characters that I can relate to and introduces me to personalities I would like to have known: The independent Wildcat Kelly, from "Don't Fence Me In", for instance, who ran away from a girlfriend trying to settle down as hard as he did from the police with an arrest warrant.

Here, you can hear some of my favorite songs of his. Pay attention to the lyrics. They're the best part.

"Do I Love You?"

"Do I love you? Do I? Doesn't one and one make two? Do I love you? Do I? Does July need a sky of blue? Would I miss you, would I, if you ever should go away? If the sun should desert the day, what would life be? Would I leave you? Never! Does the ocean leave the shore? Will I worship you forever? Isn't heaven forever more?"

"Anything Goes"

"In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, now, heaven knows: anything goes! Good authors too who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose: anything goes! The world has gone mad today, the good's bad today, the black's white today and day's night today and most guys today that women prize today are just silly gigolos!" 

"Night And Day"

  "Night and day, you are the one. Only you beneath the moon or under the sun. Whether near to me, or far, it's no matter darling where you are, I think of you. Day and night, night and day, why is it so?  That this longing for you follows wherever I go? In the roaring traffics boom, in the silence of my lonely room, I think of you."

"I get a kick out of you"

"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, they may go for cocaine. I'm sure that if I took even one sniff, it would bore me terrifically, too. Yet I get a kick out of you." 

"Let's Do It"

"Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. Let's do it, let's fall in love. 
In Spain, the best upper sets do it. Lithuanians and Latts do it. Let's do it, let's fall in love. Some Argentines, without means, do it. People say in Boston even beans do it. Let's do it, let's fall in love."

"Don't Fence Me In"

"Wildcat Kelley, looking mighty pale was standing by the Sheriff's side. And when the Sheriff said, "I'm sending you to jail, Wildcat raised his head and cried:  Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above. Don't fence me in! Let me ride through the wide open country that I love. Don't fence me in!  Let me be by myself in the evening breeze, listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees, send me off forever but I ask you please: don't fence me in!"

"It's De-Lovely"

  "You can tell at a glance what a swell night this is for romance.  You can hear dear Mother Nature murmuring low: "Let yourself go!" So please be sweet, my chickadee and when I kiss ya, just say to me: "It's delightful, it's delicious, it's delectable, it's delirious, It's dilemma, it's de limit, it's deluxe, it's de-lovely!" 

"I've Got You Under My Skin"

"I'd sacrifice anything come what might for the sake of having you near, in spite of a warning voice that comes in the night, it repeats, repeats in my ear: Don't you know you fool, you never can win! Use your mentality, wake up to reality! And each time I do, just the thought of you makes me stop before I begin, because I've got you under my skin." 

"You'd Be So Easy To Love"

"You'd be so easy to love, so easy to idolize, all others above. So sweet to waken with, so nice to sit down to the eggs and bacon with. We'd be so grand at the game, so carefree together that it does seem a shame that you can't see your future with me 'cause you'd be, oh, so easy to love..."

  "Let's Misbehave"

"You could have a great career, and you should; yes you should. Only one thing stops you dear: You're too good; way too good! If you want a future, darlin', why don't you get a past? 'Cause that fateful moment's comin' at last... We're all alone, no chaperone, can get our number, the world's in slumber--let's misbehave!"


Thursday, 15 August 2013

Just Being

As you all know, I have a soft spot in my heart for my guardian angel Katharine Hepburn, to the point that when a car with a license plate KH lets me go through I take it as a sign. Seriously.
What she did for me that earned her all this love was teach me some real priceless lessons about life. And one of them I've been desperately in need of, lately.

"I never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun." She said.

Well, I do. And I wish I didn't.

The simple, earthy truth in this quote baffles me. It's the definition of optimism. Just "being", just existing, merely having a pulse and a brain is a privilege. Over the past couple of months I've been busy out of my mind with university work and I think it's now finally getting the best of me. The weariness is taking over my mind and I feel my productivity cut to one tenth of its original proportions. I would give my left lung for the simple pleasure of a full night's sleep, with nothing to worry about and no thoughts that I should be somewhere else. I'm even having these thoughts now, as I'm writing this post to let out my frustration, my anger and my disappointment that I'm going through this. I credit these feelings to my tiredness and to the injustices that victimized me by a disorganized and ill-managed university. Most of the day I want to burn that building down just so that I won't have to be there tomorrow for nine hours. Yet again.

But, now, along comes the optimism. Just being is fun. Life itself is a fascinating adventure. Why see this as an obligation, a chore, something I have to do or else all the puppies in the world will choke to death? I'm tired and God knows how much I've done, but stopping now is not an option so I might as well be positive about it. Why see it as a burden when I can see it as a gift? An opportunity? A privilege? This is a test to make sure that I'm strong enough to do what I have to do when it's no longer easy. And I'm gonna pass. And it's gonna be fun. Just being is fun. 

Right now I am taking a break from studying physiology because I feel no more of it can possibly enter my mind at this moment. And as I stop I let my mind wander. Isn't it a miracle that the simple act of reading, interpreting, understanding, can get an idea in your brain and never let go of it again? Isn't it fascinating that tomorrow I'm gonna wake up a more enlightened and educated individual? And on Thursday when tests will finally be over (or so I hope), my movies will be waiting for me, along with my books, my bed, my car to go anywhere, my frozen yoghurt membership card to do what it was meant to do. It's not the end of the world. Not even close to it. It's just the final stretch, when the muscles are a bit too sore to keep up the speed. 

And you know what else I have to do? I have to use the most powerful weapon I have at hand. The only thing that can cure boredom, sadness, weariness, difficulty, sorrow and disappointment: humor.  I have to laugh in the face of life as it laughs in my face. The harder things get the bigger the joke, the louder the laugh. Isn't potassium hilarious? When the teachers make my life miserable, I'll laugh about it and say to the world that I. DON'T. CARE. 

I'm done crying over people who don't deserve my tears. I'm done giving more credit to things than they deserve. This situation is not permanent. This life is not my future. 

I am alive. I am healthy. My lungs still contract and expand in their youthful glory. I am alive. Katharine isn't. And so many others are simply waiting for their time to go, riddled with disease, hunger or sorrow. It's time I start appreciating life. Even when I'm sitting around, "just being". Or maybe especially then.