Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Obituary of Cole Porter

Obituary of Cole Porter, famous composer

Classification: Obituary
Surnames: COLE, PORTER
Kokomo (Ind) Tribune; Sunday Oct. 18, 1964

Famed Cole Porter To Be Buried in Peru
PERU, Ind. (AP) -- Songwriter Cole Porter, who hobnobbed with the world's celebrities but came and went virtually unnoticed in his native Peru, will be buried here next to his wife and mother.
The Hoosier-born composer of scores of hits and Broadway musicals died Friday at Santa Monica, Calif., of complications following surgery for removal of a kidney stone. He was 71.
Ironically, less than a half hour after Cole died, a cousin, James Omar Cole III, 23, Peru died in an El Paso, Tex., hospital of injuries suffered in a traffic accident. Cole was stationed at White Sands Missile Range.
The youth's parents, Mr. and Mrs. James O. Cole, occupy Porter's estate overlooking the Mississinewa River 4 miles southeast of Peru.
The son of Samuel F. Porter, Peru druggist with extensive farming interests, and Kate Cole Porter, young Cole was an accomplished pianist at 6 and composed an operetta when he was 10.
Shocked by this taste for music, Porter's grandfather, J. O. Cole, sent him to boarding school in the east and later to Yale University. he wanted his grandson to become an attorney, but Porter began writing campus shows and composed two football songs, "Bingo, Eli Yale" and "Yale Bulldog Song."
Porter inherited $1 million from his grandfather, who found coal on his Virginia timberlands, and later reportedly inherited $68 million from his mother.
It was Kate Porter who recognized her son's musical talent and encouraged daily practice. After he became an internationally known composer, Porter frequently came home to visit his widowed mother, never with any fanfare. He came and went so quietly most townfolk didn't know he had been in Peru.
His mother died in 1953 and Cole's wife, the former Linda Lee Thomas of Louisville, Ky., died the following year. They had no children.
Porter's first hit came in 1919 --"An Old Fashioned Garden," contained in the Broadway musical "Hitchy-Koo of 1919" and inspired by a garden near his Hoosier home.
There were numerous other successes such as "Night and Day," "Begin the Beguine," "In the Still of the Night," "What Is This Thing Called Love," and "Don't Fence Me In."
There were failures too. Following collapse of the Broadway show, "See America First," Porter joined the French Foreign Legion and later transferred to the French Army, serving throughout World War I as a gunnery instructor.
Porter suffered fractures of both legs in 1938 when thrown from a horse. After a series of operations, his right leg was amputated in 1958.
The songwriter's body has been flow to Peru for private services at the Eikenberry Funeral Home. No time was announced.
Burial will be in the family plot at Mount Hope Cemetery in Peru.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Night and Day


Like the beat beat beat of the tom-tom
When the jungle shadows fall
Like the tick tick tock of the stately clock
As it stands against the wall

Like the drip drip drip of the raindrops
When the summer shower is through
So a voice within me keeps repeating
You, you, you

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 traffic's boom
In the silence of my lonely room
I think of you
Day and night, night and day

Under the hide of me
There's an oh such a hungry yearning burning inside of me
And this torment won't be through
Until you let me spend my life making love to you
Day and night, night and day



Cole Porter's name derives from the surnames of his parents, Kate Cole and Sam Porter. Kate's father, James Omar (known as J. O.), was an influential man both in the community and in Cole's early life. J.O. started from humble beginnings as son of a shoemaker, but his business savvy and strong work ethic made him the richest man in Indiana. Despite J.O.'s obsessive drive for making money, he took time off to marry Rachel Henton, who had several children with him.

Kate Cole was born in 1862, and was spoiled during her youth as she was throughout her life. Kate always had the best clothes, the best education, and the best training in dancing and music. Kate's father expected to marry her off to a man with a strong business background, a strong personality, and the potential for a good career. As it is for many filial presumptions and expectations, Kate married someone who was quite the opposite -- a shy druggist from their small town of Peru, Indiana.

The couple married without the full consent of J.O., but he financially supported their wedding and subsidized the couple. As one of the richest men in Indiana, he thought his daughter should be seen doing and wearing the right things without financial fears. These subsidies from J.O. financed the rest of Sam and Kate's life, as well as that of their son born on June 9th, 1891: Cole Porter.

Cole's Early Years

Cole learned piano and violin at age six. He became very good at both, but he disliked the violin's harsh sound and so his energy turned to the piano. During his formative years, he played piano two hours per day. While Cole practiced, he and his mother would parody popular tunes on the piano in order to increase Cole's patience with such long practice sessions.




Appearing to surpass his peers was easier due to deception on the part of Cole and his mother. When he was fourteen, his mother falsified his school records so it appeared that he was extra bright "for his age" because his age was falsely decremented one year. The power J. O. Cole wielded within the small town of Peru, Indiana allowed Kate many such unusual favors by community officials. For instance, Kate financed student orchestras in exchange for guarantees of Cole Porter violin solos and apparently influenced the media's reviews or billing surrounding such concerts. She also subsidized the publishing of Cole's early compositions.

Cole composed songs as early as 1901 (when he was ten) with a song dedicated to his mother, a piano piece called Song of the Birds, separated into six sections with titles like The Young Ones Leaning to Sing and The Cuckoo Tells the Mother Where the Bird Is. His mother ensured that one hundred copies were published so that the song could be sent to friends and relatives.

He enrolled in the Worcester Academy in 1905, where he was lauded as the precocious youngster who became class valedictorian. There Cole met an important influence in his musicianship, Dr. Abercrombie. His teacher taught him about the relationship between words and meter, and between words and music in songs. Cole later quoted from Ambercrombie's lessons: "Words and music must be so inseparably wedded to each other that they are like one."

The Yale Years

Cole's Yale years included many adventures, many musicals, and the forging of relationships that he carried with him for the rest of his life. Most students soon knew him for the fight songs he would write, many of which continue to be Yale classics.

It might be worth noting that it was during the Yale years when Cole's homosexuality likely became a powerful, if not fully public, part of his life. The Cole Porter biographies I have read do not reveal compelling proof of his gay sex life until after college, so some this may be partially conclusions based on Cole's well documented gay liaisons soon after college. And perhaps the number of Yale football fight songs he wrote in college and his post-college sexual preference for large strong men were not entirely coincidence.

Perhaps the biggest influences in his musical development were the full scale (for college) productions designed for the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, the Yale Dramatic Association, and solo performances in the Yale Glee Club.

Despite an Ivy League academic workload and social obligations, he composed several full productions per year in addition to individual songs. Most of the shows for the Yale student groups were zany musicals that were always complicated and often rallied around the superiority or sexual (heterosexual, by the way) prowess of Yale men. These shows were primarily intended for a Yale audience, although some of them charged admission when intended for a non-college crowd. Cole did not necessarily contribute to the "book" (the script) of the musicals, but he did have an influence on how the plot was strung together, the high energy, and the witty surreality that marked all of Cole's musicals.

Cole wrote musicals for clubs and alumni associations, which allowed Cole and his friends to tour the country and be showered with attention and party invitations. Some of these Yale connections were helpful when he started his career on Broadway. The Yale ties lasted beyond his graduation. Even as he was graduating, he was promising more musicals for his student organizations to be written after leaving Yale. He left Yale with a legacy of approximately 300 songs, including six full scale productions.

Cole spent the years immediately after Yale flailing in an unsuccessful Harvard law career. The man who paid all of Cole's bills, his grandfather J.O. Cole, disapproved of men choosing careers in the arts and tried hard to convince Cole to become a lawyer. Even when Cole was young, J.O. tried to instill a sense of rough individualism and business savvy that was lost on the over-pampered young Porter. Cole did indeed start attending Harvard Law but his primary attention was always to music (including writing musicals for his Yale friends). Although Kate knew, J.O. was not told that in his second year Cole switched from the law school to the school of arts and sciences at Harvard in order to pursue music. Eventually, he abandoned his studies, moved to the Yale club in New York, and began his serious music career.

Career and Travel

His first Broadway show was See America First, which was a 1916 flop despite the social luminaries in the early audiences -- a feature of hiring Bessie Marbury as theatrical producer. It was described by the New York American as a "high-class college show played partly by professionals." Cole later claimed to be in hiding after the failure of the show but he actually was prominent in the New York social scene and continued to live at the Yale Club in New York.

In July of 1917, he set out for Paris and war-engulfed Europe. Paris was a place Cole flourished socially and managed to be in the best of all possible worlds. He lied to the American press about his military involvement and made up stories about working with the French Foreign Legion and the French army. This allowed him to live his days and nights as a wealthy American in Paris, a socialite with climbing status, and still be considered a "war hero" back home, an 'official' story he encouraged throughout the rest of his life.

The parties during these years were elaborate and fabulous, involving people of wealthy and political classes. His parties were marked by much gay and bisexual activity, Italian nobility, cross-dressing, international musicians, and a large surplus of recreational drugs.

Cole and Linda

By 1919, Cole was spending time with the American divorcee Linda Thomas. The two became close friends quickly. Their financial status and social standing also made them ideal candidates for marriage -- as a business contract, not for passion. The fact that Linda's ex-husband was abusive and Cole was gay made the arrangement even more palatable. Linda was always one of Cole's best supporters and being married increased his chance of success, and Cole allowed Linda to keep high social status for the rest of her life. They married on December 19, 1919 and lived a happy friendship, a mostly successful public relationship, but a sexless marriage until Linda's death in 1954

For those interested in the poets, politicians, patricians, and places Cole knew in the next two decades, they were fairly well documented. See the Cole Wide Web Books page for details.

The Later Years

After early success with one-off songs like Don't Fence Me In, which was re-released in a World War II musical called Hollywood Canteen, Cole signed some contracts with the film industry. The first film with a Cole Porter song was The Battle of Paris from 1929, but his two tunes from that movie had little impact on his career because of the film wasn't very good overall.

Cole was happy with many aspects of the Hollywood community, including the liberal gay enclave called the movie industry population. Although there is some dispute about the reasons why Linda did not like the Hollywood home, my research indicates that the primary friction was Cole's relatively more public sexual escapades. At the time, it was much less acceptable to be an eccentric gay artist and Linda feared for Cole's reputation and career. And her social standing was threatened by such activities, since it reflected poorly in hushed rumors within upper-crust social circles.

In 1937, Cole was involved in a horse riding accident and fractured both of legs. This was a personal tragedy for a vain man who placed an enormous value on looks for both social and sexual reasons. His vibrant energy and obsession to maintain his looks through elaborate daily rituals could not (in his opinion) compensate for such a debilitating blow at his health and his ego. He was in the hospital for months, but his mental and physical health waned. It got worse with the eventual amputation of one of his legs. This did not stop Cole from writing music. During this period were Cole's popular songs Most Gentlemen Don't Like Love, From Now On, and Get Out Of Town.

In 1945, he lent his permission but minimal creative energy to the movie Night and Day, allegedly about the life of Cole Porter. Although great for his ego and likely hysterically funny for his friends, history suffers because this movie had very little relationship to the actual life of Cole Porter. The movie purposely left out important parts of life, like his overly pampered and controlled youth, his gay life, his sexless marriage of convenience, his 'business' marriage, and furthered the fantastic tall tales that Cole spread about himself. For instance, although he had never served in the French Army, the movie faithfully "showed" his exploits and his fake war injuries. Cole reportedly enjoyed the movie's wildly fictional account, and he had the privilege of seeing movie superstar Cary Grant play a well-hyped heroic (and straight) version of himself.

After this point, he had one major production, Kiss Me Kate, which was based on the Shakespeare classic Taming of the Shrew. Cole was very skeptical of this production but eventually lent his hand to the production and it became very successful, eventually spawning a moderately successful movie. Porter produced fewer successful productions in the later days, but Cole wrote songs for the musicals Can Can and Silk Stockings during this period.

Doctors amputated Cole's injured right leg in 1958. After the amputation, Cole's creative productivity, his social power, and his happiness plummeted. He died on October 15, 1964. In accordance with his wishes, official reports say that he was buried between his wife Linda and his father Sam Porter. Howver, perhaps because of his father's trivial role in Cole's upbringing, other reports circled that he was actually buried between his mother Kate and his wife Linda.

The popularity of his individual songs lasted far beyond the common knowledge of the man himself. Many of his most famous songs were presented to the public only in the context of musicals or movies which contained non-Cole Porter songs. Other famous songs have come from Cole Porter musicals or revues that failed miserably, but made up their exposure via sheet music and recordings from popular singers like Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. For more information about Cole Porter albums, see the CD section of Cole Wide Web. Sometime in the 1990s, ASCAP reported that the sales of the song Night and Day from the musical Gay Divorce were the highest numbers of all time.

A 1990 album brought Cole Porter music to many younger listeners as the fundraising album Red, Hot, and Blue. The album features Cole Porter songs sung by popular musicians of the 1980s and 1990s. Porter songs still maintain a strong presence in movie soundtracks (from Woody Allen Movies, to Tank Girl), with the most popular songs Lets Do It (Let's Fall In Love) and Night and Day.

The 2004 movie De-Lovely, named after a silly Cole Porter song title, rekindled the nation's love for Cole Porter's music due to the beautiful sets, all-star actors, famous musicians, and a well-hyped Hollywood marketing campaign for the movie and the soundtrack.

Let's hope that we all keep the talent of Cole Porter alive!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)

When the little bluebird
Who has never said a word
Starts to sing Spring
When the little bluebell
At the bottom of the dell
Starts to ring Ding dong Ding dong
When the little blue clerk
In the middle of his work
Starts a tune to the moon up above
It is nature that is all
Simply telling us to fall in love 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

The Dutch in old Amsterdam do it
Not to mention the Finns
Folks in Siam do it
Think of Siamese twins

Some Argentines, without means do it
People say in Boston even beans do it
Let's do it, let's fall in love

Romantic sponges they say do it
Oysters down in Oyster Bay do it
Let's do it, let's fall in love

Cold Cape Cod clams, 'gainst their wish, do it
Even lazy jellyfish do it
Let's do it, let's fall in love

Electric eels, I might add, do it
Though it shocks 'em I know
Why ask if shad do it
Waiter, bring me shadroe

In shallow shoals, English soles do it
Goldfish in the privacy of bowls do it
Let's do it, let's fall in love

You're the Top

At words poetic, I'm so pathetic
That I always have found it best,
Instead of getting 'em off my chest,
To let 'em rest unexpressed,
I hate parading my serenading
As I'll probably miss a bar,
But if this ditty is not so pretty
At least it'll tell you
How great you are.

You're the top!
You're the Coliseum.
You're the top!
You're the Louver Museum.
You're a melody from a symphony by Strauss
You're a Bendel bonnet,
A Shakespeare's sonnet,
You're Mickey Mouse.
You're the Nile,
You're the Tower of Pisa,
You're the smile on the Mona Lisa
I'm a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,
But if, baby, I'm the bottom you're the top!

Your words poetic are not pathetic.
On the other hand, babe, you shine,
And I can feel after every line
A thrill divine
Down my spine.
Now gifted humans like Vincent Youmans
Might think that your song is bad,
But I got a notion
I'll second the motion
And this is what I'm going to add;

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 turkey dinner,
You're the time, the time of a Derby winner
I'm a toy balloon that’s fated soon to pop
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're an arrow collar
You're the top!
You're a Coolidge dollar,
You're the nimble tread
Of the feet of Fred Astaire,
You're an O'Neill drama,

You're Whistler's mama!

You're camembert.

You're a rose,
You're Inferno's Dante,

You're the nose
On the great Durante.
I'm just in a way,
As the French would say, "de trop".
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're a dance in Bali.
You're the top!
You're a hot tamale.
You're an angel, you,
Simply too, too, too diveen,
You're a Boticcelli,
You're Keats,
You're Shelly!

You're Ovaltine!
You're a boom,
You're the dam at Boulder,
You're the moon,
Over Mae West's shoulder,
I'm the nominee of the G.O.P.


But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're a Waldorf salad.
You're the top!
You're a Berlin ballad.
You're the boats that glide
On the sleepy Zuider Zee,
You're an old Dutch master,

You're Lady Astor,
You're broccoli!
You're romance,
You're the steppes of Russia,
You're the pants, on a Roxy usher,
I'm a broken doll, a fol-de-rol, a blop,

But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!


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 enui
and i suddenly turn and see,
your fabulous face.

I get no kick from Champagne
Mere alchohol 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 cocain
i'm sure that if i took even one sniff
that would bore me terrificly 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 its clear to me you obviously don't
adore me

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

It's De-lovely

I feel a sudden urge to sing the kind of ditty that invokes the Spring
So, control your desire to curse while I crucify the verse
This verse I've started seems to me the 'Tin Pan-tithesis' of melody
So to spare you all the pain, I'll skip the darn thing and sing the refrain

The night is young, the skies are clear
And if you want to go walkin', dear
It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely

I understand the reason why
You're sentimental, 'cause so am I
It's delightful, it's delicious, 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

True Love

Suntanned, windblown
Honeymooners at last alone
Feeling far above par
Oh, how lucky we are

While I give to you and you give to me
True love, true love
So on and on it will always be
True love, true love

For you and I have a guardian angel
On high, with nothing to do
But to give to you and to give to me
Love forever, true

For you and I have a guardian angel
On high, with nothing to do
But to give to you and to give to me
Love forever, true

Love forever, ...true

Where Is the Life That Late I Led?

Since I reached the charming age of puberty
And began to think of feminine curls
Like a show that's typically Shuberty
I have always had a multitude of girls

But now that a married man at last am I
How aware of my dear departed past am I

Where is the life that late I led?
Where is it now? Totally dead!
Where is the fun I used to find?
Where has it gone? Gone with the wind!
A married life may all be well
But raising an heir could never compare
With raising a bit of hell
Where is Rebecca? My Becky-wecky-oh
Could still she be cruising that amusing Pontevecchio?
Where is Fedora, the wild virago?
It's lucky I missed her gangster sister from Chicago
Where is Venetia, who loved to chat so?
Could still she be drinking in her stinking pink palazzo?
And lovely Lisa, where are you Lisa?
You gave a new meaning to the Leaning Tower of Piza

Where is the life that late I led?
Where is it now? Totally dead!
Where is the fun I used to find?
Where has it gone? Gone with the wind!
I've oft been told of nuptial bliss
But what do you do at quarter to two
With only a shrew to kiss?
So I repeat what first I said
Where is the life that late I led

So I repeat what first I said
Where is the life that late I...

Blow Gabriel Blow

Do you hear that playin'?
(Yes, we hear that playin'.)
Do you know who's playin'?
(No, who is that playin'?)

Why it's Gabriel, Gabriel playin'.
Gabriel, Gabriel sayin',
'Will you be ready to go when I blow my horn?'

So blow, Gabriel, blow,
Go on and blow, Gabriel, blow!
I've been a sinner, I've been a scamp,
But now I'm willing to trim my lamp,
So blow, Gabriel, blow!
I was low, Gabriel, low,
Mighty low, Gabriel, low.
But now since I have seen the light,
I'm good by day and I'm good by night,
So blow, Gabriel, blow.
Once I was headed for hell,
But when I got to Satan's door
I heard you blowin' on your horn once more,
So I said, 'Satan, farewell!'
And now I'm all ready to fly,
Yes, to fly higher and higher!
'Cause I've gone through the brimstone and I've been through the fire,
And I've purged my soul and my heart too,
So climb up the mountain top and start to
Blow, Gabriel, blow.
Go on and blow, Gabriel, blow!
I want to join your happy band
And play all day in the Promised Land,
So blow, Gabriel, blow!

All Through The Night

All through the night,
I delight in your love,
All through the night, you're so close to me.
All through the night, from a height far above,
You and your love brings me ecstasy.

When dawn comes to waken me
You're never there at all.
I know you've forsaken me,
Till the shadows fall.
But then once again
I can dream,
I've the right
To be close to you
All through the night.

Begin The beguine

When they begin the beguine
It brings back the sound of music so tender,
It brings back a night of tropical splendor,
It brings back a memory ever green.
I'm with you once more under the stars,
And down by the shore an orchestra's playing
And even the palms seem to be swaying
When they begin the beguine.
To live it again is past all endeavor,
Except when that tune clutches my heart,
And there we are, swearing to love forever,
And promising never, never to part.
What moments divine, what rapture serene,
Till clouds came along to disperse the joys we had tasted,
And now when I hear people curse the chance that was wasted,
I know but too well what they mean;
So don't let them begin the beguine
Let the love that was once a fire remain an ember;
Let it sleep like the dead desire I only remember
When they begin the beguine.
Oh yes, let them begin the beguine, make them play
Till the stars that were there before return above you,
Till you whisper to me once more,
Darling, I love you!
And we suddenly know What heaven we're in,
When they begin the beguine

Be A Clown

I'll remember forever,
When I was but three,
Mama, who was clever,
Remarking to me;
If, son, when you're grown up,
You want ev'rything nice,
I've got your future sewn up
If you take this advice:

Be a clown, be a clown,
All the world loves a clown.
Act a fool, play the calf,
And you'll always have the last laugh.
Wear the cap and the bells
And you'll rate with all the great swells
If you become a doctor, folks'll face you with dread,
If you become a dentist, they'll be glad when you're dead,
You'll get a bigger hand if you can stand on your head,
Be a clown, be a clown, be a clown.

At Long Last Love

Is it an earthquake or simply a shock?
Is it the good turtle soup or merely the mock?
Is it a cocktail, this feeling of joy?
Or is what I feel the real mccoy?

Is it for all time or simply a lark?
Is it granada I see or only asbury park?
Is it a fancy not worth thinking of?
Or is it at long last love?

Is it an earthquake, or simply a shock?
Is it the good turtle soup, or is it merely the mock?
Is it a cocktail, this feeling of joy?
Or is what I feel the real mccoy?

Is it for all time or simply a lark?
Is it granada I see or only asbury park?
Is it a fancy, not worth thinking of?
Or is it at long long long last love?

Anything Goes

Times have changed,
And we've often rewound the clock,
Since the Puritans got a shock,
When they landed on Plymouth Rock.
If today,
Any shock they should try to stem,
'Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock,
Plymouth Rock would land on them.

In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God 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
And good's bad today,
And black's white today,
And day's night today,
When most guys today
That women prize today
Are just silly gigolos
And though I'm not a great romancer
I know that I'm bound to answer
When you propose,
Anything goes

When grandmama whose age is eighty
In night clubs is getting matey with gigolo's,
Anything Goes.

When mothers pack and leave poor father
Because they decide they'd rather be tennis pros,
Anything Goes.

If driving fast cars you like,
If low bars you like,
If old hymns you like,
If bare limbs you like,
If Mae West you like
Or me undressed you like,
Why, nobody will oppose!
When every night,
The set that's smart
Is intruding in nudist parties in studios,
Anything Goes.