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Cole Porter Songbooks


Ella Fitzgerald
Cole Porter Songbooks, Volume 1 & 2



1. All Through The Night

2. Anything Goes 

3. Miss Otis Regrets (She's Unable To Lunch Today)

4. Too Darn Hot

5. In The Still Of The Night

6. I Get A Kick Out Of You

7. Do I Love You

8. Always True To You In My Fashion

9. Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love)

10. Just One Of Those Things

11. Ev'ry Time We Say Good-Bye

12. All Of You

13. Begin The Beguine

14. Get Out Of Town

15. I Am In Love

16. From This Moment

Volume Two:

1. I Love Paris

2. You Do Something To Me

3. Ridin' High

4. Easy to Love

5. It's All Right With Me

6. Why Can't You Behave

7. What Is This Thing Called Love

8. You're The Top

9. Love For Sale

10. It's Delovely

11. Night and Day

12. Ace in the Hole

13. So In Love

14. I've Got You Under My Skin

15. I Concentrate On You

16. Don't Fence Me In

Ella Fitzgerald, vocals.
Orchestra arranged and conducted by Buddy Bregman.
Recorded February and March, 1956 at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles.
Original sessions produced by Norman Granz.
Produced for Compact Disc by Richard Seidel.
Original sessions engineered by Val Valentin.
Digitally remastered by Dennis Drake, Polygram Studios.

All selections previously released on V-4050.

It is probable that more people were introduced to the songs of Cole Porter through this album in its original release than through any other. In fact, when Ella Fitzgerald began recording these 16 songs with the Buddy Bregman Orchestra in February, 1956, she was the first great singer to honor the finest of American songwriters with such a collection. Both Ella and Cole had many attributes in common--impeccable taste, elegant style, an uncommon sense of propriety, and a quality that Porter himself described as "special grace". Indeed, Ella's phrasing, diction, and warm, swinging way with Porter were models of their kind. Yet there was a certain irony to this recording. The year 1956 saw the eagerly-awaited premier of My Fair Lady. Harold Arlen was still  writing for the theater, as were Irving Berlin and Rodgers and Hammerstein. The opening of a Broadway show could still give audiences the kind of intense excitement that once heralded a new Verdi or Puccini opera in Italy. But it was an era that had reached its zenith, for, with few notable exceptions, the great age of both the Broadway and Hollywood musical was over. Neither Ella Fitzgerald nor producer Norman Granz had any way of knowing that Cole Porter had written his last show for Broadway when they recorded the first volume of "Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter SongBook."

Cole Porter was born in Peru (pronounced Pea-rue), Indiana, on June 9, 1891. He received his formal education at Yale College (1909-13), Harvard University (in law and music, 1913-16), and the Schola Cantorum in Paris (1902-21). He began his extensive musical education under his mother's tutelage with the study of piano and violin. His instinct for lyric writing was cultivated by his father's avid interest in classic languages and nineteenth-century romantic poetry. While at Yale, he wrote the football songs "Bull Dog" and "Bingo Eli Yale" (still sung at games) and his first musical comedy scores for his fraternity and the Yale Dramatic Association. He put on vaudeville displays during Yale Glee Club concerts that could have taken place on the professional circuits. His early achievements seemed an almost certain passport to an equally prompt success in the commercial theater. But his Broadway debut in March 1916 as composer and co-lyricist of a comic opera called See America First was a disaster. In the summer of 1917 Porter sailed for Europe. After several months of war relief work he enlisted in the French Foreign Legion.

Later in the War, he became attached to the American Embassy in Paris where he met and married a beautiful divorcee named Linda Lee Thomas. For most of the next decade the Porters made Europe, especially Paris and Venice, their home. They traveled extensively and lived on a grand scale, intimate with leading cultural figures as well as the cream of international cafe society. Surrounded by parties and festivies Porter nevertheless continued to hone his craft, writing an occasional revue score and the Greenwich Village Follies of 1924 (from which his songs were instantly ejected) and interpolating some songs in various Broadway and London productions. But by and large Porter in the mid-'20s was an unhappy composer.

An active, lavish social life in the playgrounds of Europe failed to cure his despondency or pull him out of what he described as "a black mood of despair", although he continued to write songs for his own and his friends' amusement. To his amazement, "I'm in Love Again", a song which had been deleted from the Greenwich Village Follies of 1924, began to be played by many bandleaders. A Paul Whiteman recording in 1927 made it a hit. But the real turning point in Porter's career came about through the services of Irving Berlin, Porter's closest friend among songwriters and the songwriter Porter himself admired most. Berlin told producer E. Ray Goetz that Porter was the ideal composer of songs with the proper French flavor for a new show Goetz was preparing. The producer tracked down Porter on Venice's Lido and pleaded with him to write the songs for the show. Goetz later said that Porter was tough to convince since he had been burned by Broadway many times before, but Porter claimed that he was happy to have the assignment that he "fell on him like an over-eager puppy." The result was Paris, a play with music that opened in the fall of 1928 at Irving Berlin's Music Box Theater. As they say, the rest is history.

A duet added while the show was touring, "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)", became a whopping hit. In fact, "Let's Do It," with its jaunty, witty plea for naturalness in amatory matters, became a sort of anthem of liberation in the closing years of the roaring '20s. The song was incorporated in the score Porter wrote for Charles B. Cochran's 1929 London revue Wake Up and Dream, which also boasted the throbbing ballad "What Is This Thing Called Love?" A song with an unusual harmonica progression for its time, it had a rhythmic pattern apparently based on a native chant that Porter had heard at a square in Marrakech. The leading candidate for Porter's most famous song is "Night and Day" (also the title of the 1946 film treatment of his life, with Cary Grant playing Porter).

It was originally performed by Fred Astaire in Porter's 1932 Broadway musical Gay Divorcee and was the only Porter song to be retained in the 1934 film version of the show (re-titled The Gay Divorcee, starring Astaire with Ginger Rogers). Because of the song's wide range Astaire was at first reluctant to sing it, but it was an instant hit, Porter later had reason to cures "Night and Day"--which he often did--because critics refused to acknowledge that he ever wrote anything else was good. Porter's most famous show up to that time--and the first of his five associations with Ethel Merman--was Anything Goes. Literally studded with standards, it boasted the infectious title song, "You're the Top" (the best of Porter's list songs), "All Through the Night," and "I Get a Kick Out of You." Porter's 1935 show Jubilee, with a book by Moss Hart, was written during a six-months' around-the-world cruise.

Curiously, its two most famous songs, "Begin the Beguine" and "Just One Of Those Things", took many years to gain wide public acceptance. "Beguine," which poses enormous vocal problems, achieved popularity following Artie Shaw's famous 1938 recording; "Just One Of Those Things" did not really catch on until the 1940s. Porter's first complete score for a Hollywood musical, Born To Dance, starring Jimmy Stewart, Eleanor Powell, and Virginia Bruce, appeared in 1936. Practically the entire cast of the film was involved in "Easy To Love": Jimmy Stewart sang it, Eleanor Powell danced to it, Reginald Gardiner did his Chaplinesque Toscanini imitation to it, and Frances Langford later reprised it. "I've Got You Under My Skin" was sung by Virginia Bruce. The same year saw another Porter show on Broadway, Red, Hot and Blue!

This production, which survived a billing battle between co-stars Ethel Merman and Jimmy Durante, featured a promising juvenile named Bob Hope and the usual quota of Porter hits, including "Ridin' High" and "It's DeLovely". In 1937, Porter suffered a crippling riding accident that required over thirty bone operations to prevent amputation of his legs and kept him in constant pain the rest of his life. Porter battled back, maintained his impressive output of show and film scores. There is no evidence suggested that his creativity dried up after the accident. Almost half the songs Ella sings on this album were written after the accident--ample evidence of Porter's continuing strength and versatility as a creator. "Get Out Of Town" was first sung in the 1938 show Leave It To Me, which introduced both Mary Martin and Gene Kelly to Broadway.

Porter wrote "I Concentrate On You" for the film Broadway Melody of 1940 and "Do I Love You" for the 1939 Bert Lahr-Ethel Merman-Betty Grable Hit DuBarry Was A Lady. "Ace In The Hole" was featured in Danny Kaye's first starring venture, Let's Face It (1941). Throughout the war years Porter continued to commute between New York and Hollywood, alternating between film and theater scores. Nevertheless, his reputation began to decline. Billy Rose's extravagant revue Seven Lively Arts (1944) failed to generate much of a run, although Porter's "Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye", featured in the show, is one of the finest songs he ever wrote. Porter made a roaring comeback in 1948 with his brilliant score for Kiss Me Kate, a musical retelling of Shakespeare's Tameing of the Shrew. Ella does wonders with "Too Darn Hot", "So In Love", "Always True To You In My Fashion", and "Why Can't You Behave?" Written two years later, Porter's score for Out Of This World, a musical version of the Amphitryon legend starring Charlotte Greenwood as Juno, equaled his work in Kiss Me Kate. But what became the biggest hit, "From This Moment On", was dropped from the show before the Broadway opening.

Three years later Porter revived it for the film version of Kiss Me Kate. Porter's next show, Can-Can, was set in Paris in the 1980s, and became his second longest-running show. Nonetheless, Porter was once again chided--as he often was during his career--for not producing a score "up to his usual standard", But who can deny the quality of such fine songs as "I Love Paris", "I Am In Love", and "It's All Right With Me". His last show, Silk Stockings, opened in 1955 and featured the standout "All Of You." By the mid-1950s Porter's personal world began to collapse.

His beloved mother Katie died when he was working on the score for Can-Can. His wife, Linda, succumbed in 1954 after a long illness. Porter continued to write though his heart was no longer in his work. In 1956 came the film High Society, a year later Les Girls, and in 1958, the television production Aladdin, his last score for any medium. That year one of his legs had to be amputated, and the beginning of the end was at hand. Porter never wrote another song.

He died in California on October 15, 1964, at age 73. Cole Porter touched our hearts with his blend of glorious music and sophisticated lyrics. As the Porter revival continues to blossom and more and more people discover the beauty, elegance and wit that are the hallmarks of his best work, it should not be forgotten that Ella Fitzgerald was celebrating the art of Cole Porter when many were still taking him for granted.

By Robert Kimball

Robert Kimball is the author of Cole, the editor of The Unpublished Cole Porter, and co-author of The Gershwins and Reminiscing with Sissle and Blake.

(r) (c) 1984 PolyGram Records, Inc.
Manufactured and Marketed by PolyGram Classics, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc., NY, NY Printed in USA.

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