The Song of the Day for Thursday, November 1, 2012 is Begin the Beguine.
About Begin the Beguine
When I was about seven years old, I asked my mother (who was preparing dinner at the time) what the word ‘beguine’ meant. Either she didn’t know or didn’t have time to tell me; she told me finish setting the table. Now, some decades later, I decided to look it up and found this excellent description on Wikipedia:
A Beguine was originally a Christian lay woman of the 13th or 14th century living in a religious community without formal vows; but in the Creole of the Caribbean, especially in Martinique and Guadeloupe, the term came to mean “white woman”, and then to be applied to a style of music and dance, and in particular a slow, close couples’ dance. This, a combination of French ballroom dance and Latin folk dance, became popular in Paris and spread further abroad in the 1940s, largely due to the influence of the Porter song.
Begin the Beguine was written, of course, by Cole Porter in 1935 for the Broadway musical Jubilee and was introduced by June Knight.
As a former clarinetist, I’m quite partial to the Artie Shaw instrumental version from 1938. It’s one of Cole Porter’s more popular songs and has been widely recorded over the years.
Another great find about this song from Wikipedia:
Leslie Hutchinson recorded a version in the 1930s. In the 1930s, this recording was given to the Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba, who later asked that it be played seven times at his tomb when his body was laid to rest, which occurred a week after his death on 31 January 1969.
About This Version
Tony Bennett first recorded Begin the Beguine in 1957 for The Beat of My Heart and featured Jo Jones on drums.
His next recording, which is featured today, was made in 1960 for Mr. Broadway: Tony’s Greatest Broadway Hits; arranged and conducted by Ralph Sharon and produced by Mitch Miller. The same version was included on the 1973 Sunrise, Sunset and on the Forty (and Fifty) Years: The Artistry of Tony Bennett sets. It also featured on a very fine album, The Very Best of Cole Porter.