The song of the day for Tuesday, June 9, 2015 is “The Cole Porter Medley.”
About This Song
This medley is built from the greatest of Cole Porter’s songs. For details about these songs, including when they were written by Cole Porter, visit The Cole Porter Medley topic on our sister site, The Interactive Tony Bennett Discography.
About This Version
Tony Bennett recorded this medley for the first album released on his Improv label: Tony Bennett Sings … “Life Is Beautiful,” released in 1972. This song, as well as all of the songs on this album, were orchestrated and conducted by Torrie Zito.
The writer for all these wonderful songs, Cole Porter, was born on June 9, 1891 in a wealthy family from Peru, Indiana. His mother taught him piano starting at the age of six; however, his family wanted him to become a lawyer. He entered Yale, majoring in English, with a minor in music. He was a prolific songwriter while at Yale, including two football fight songs that are played to this day. He moved to Paris and later Venice where he entertained lavishly and dabbled in songwriting. Thought decidedly homosexual, Porter married Linda Lee Thomas in 1919 and stayed married until her death in 1954. Linda was instrumental in encouraging Porter to write more seriously and in 1928 his first Broadway hit, Paris, opened. The 1930s saw a remarkable string of hit musicals including Anything Goes, Fifty Million Frenchmen, Jubilee and Red, Hot and Blue. In the late 1930s and most of the 1940s, Porter worked in Hollywood. In 1948, one of his greatest musicals, Kiss Me Kate, opened on Broadway to great acclaim.
During all this success, Porter was severely injured in 1937 in a riding accident, in which his horse rolled over on him and crushed his legs. He underwent 34 surgeries to save one of his legs from being amputated, though he did lose the leg finally in 1958. He was in significant pain for the rest of his life from that accident. He never wrote another song after the amputation. Porter died in 1964 in California.. Officially, he is said to have died of kidney failure, though many think his death was hastened by the doctors who were treating him for his kidney disease. Porter was a lifelong alcoholic and the California doctors refused to allow him any alcohol at all, in spite of the advice from his New York doctors. The struggle of stopping cold turkey coupled with his physical condition was just too much. He was 73 years old at his death.
He was certainly one of great American songwriters and his contributions to the American Songbook are memorable. In addition to the songs featured in today’s medley, he also wrote songs like “Begin The Beguine,” “Too Darn Hot,” “In The Still Of The Night,””Love For Sale” and many, many more.
“The Cole Porter Medley,” as well as The Complete Improv Recordings, is available from iTunes.