Monday, January 9, 2017

for a wonderful time

Have you seen the well-to-do
Up on Lenox Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare
With their noses in the air
High hats and arrowed collars
White spats and fifteen dollars
Spending every dime
For a wonderful time

If you're blue and you don't know -- where to go to
Why don't you go where Harlem sits
Puttin' on the Ritz


"Puttin' On the Ritz" -- a song written by Irving Berlin in May 1927.  Published Dec. 2, 1929.

It was performed in these films:

Puttin' On the Ritz, 1930    (Harry Richman)

Idiot's Delight, 1939    (Clark Gable)

Blue Skies, 1946    (Fred Astaire)

When you look up this song on the Internet, you find that it's been recorded by a lot of people.  This is how songs diffuse themselves through the culture, and ooze familiarly from various facets of society and prisms of experience and layers of memory.

(I know that song!  I've heard it -- somewhere!)

Why don't you go -- where fashion sits

...where Harlem sits is it again?

Puttin' On the Ritz!


In the 1974 documentary film That's Entertainment!, you see the Astaire version and the Clark Gable version of this song. 

A singing-dancing number was an anomaly for Gable, and some of his fans wrote in with indignant protests....


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