Friday, November 17, 2006



Hart found even jauntier notes in this number from The Boys From Syracuse (1940) , a vaudeville-inspired rendition of A Comedy of Errors that in turn inspired A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, by a jealous queen whose name escapes me at the moment.

“This can't be love, because I feel so well,
No sobs, no sorrows, no sighs.
This can't be love; I get no dizzy spells,
My head is not in the skies.

My heart does not stand still, just hear it beat.
This is too sweet to be love.

This can't be love, because I feel so well,
But still I love to look in your eyes.

My heart does not stand still, just hear it beat.
This is too sweet to be love.

This can't be love, because I feel so well,
But still I love to look in your eyes.
Still I love to look in your eyes”




But he returned to bittersweet form in 1940 with this number from Higher and Higher :

“Once I laughed when I heard you saying
That I'd be playing solitaire
Uneasy in my easy chair
It never entered my mind
And once you told me I was mistaken
That I'd awaken with the sun
And ordered orange juice for one
It never entered my mind
You had what I lack, myself
Now I even have to scratch my back myself
Once you warned me that if you scorned me
I'd say a lonely prayer again
And wish that you were there again
To get into my hair again
It never entered my mind
Once you warned me that if you scorned me
I'd say a lonely prayer again
And wish that you were there again
To get into my hair again
It never entered my mind




And that same year produced Pal Joey, the first (and possibly last) truly adult musical and arguably Hart’s masterpiece. It was about a gigolo. Among its great songs, this one recently done to great effect in The History Boys.

“After one whole quart of brandy
Like a daisy, I'm awake
With no Bromo-Seltzer handy
I don't even shake
Men are not a new sensation
I've done pretty well I think
But this half-pint imitation
Put me on the blink
I'm wild again, beguiled again
A simpering, whimpering child again
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered - am I
Couldn't sleep and wouldn't sleep
When love came and told me, I shouldn't sleep
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered - am I
Lost my heart, but what of it
He is cold I agree
He can laugh, but I love it
Although the laugh's on me
I'll sing to him, each spring to him
And long, for the day when I'll cling to him
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered - am I
He's a fool and don't I know it
But a fool can have his charms
I'm in love and don't I show it
Like a babe in arms
Love's the same old sad sensation
Lately I've not slept a wink
Since this half-pint imitation
Put me on the blink
I've sinned a lot, I'm mean a lot
But I'm like sweet seventeen a lot
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered - am I
I'll sing to him, each spring to him
And worship the trousers that cling to him
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered - am I
When he talks, he is seeking
Words to get off his chest
Horizontally speaking, he's at his very best
Vexed again, perplexed again
Thank God, I can be oversexed again
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered - am I
Wise at last, my eyes at last,
Are cutting you down to your size at last
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered - no more
Burned a lot, but learned a lot
And now you are broke, so you earned a lot
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered - no more
Couldn't eat, was dispeptic
Life was so hard to bear
Now my heart's antiseptic
Since you moved out of there
Romance, finis.
Your chance, finis.
Those ants that invaded my pants, finis.
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered - no more.”


(Harold Lang, star of the 1952 revival of "Pal Joey" with boyfriend du jour Gore Vidal.)




It was no more Larry for Richard Rogers by the mid-forties when he broke with his unreliable and increasingly dead-drunk lyricist and joined forces with Oscar Hammerstein to write a series of hit shows that while far from negligible are the polar opposite of the ones he wrote with Hart. Yet after Hammerstein’s death Rogers on his own wrote the music AND lyrics to No Strings -- a brilliant show about a white American novelist’s affair with a black American fashion model in a racially liberated Europe. In every way it was a séance in which Rogers was evoking (with striking success) the spirit of Larry Hart.

But that spirit hasn't died. Robert Altman, for one, built a major dance sequence around Hart's arguably most famous song in his 2003 film The Company. And that spirit will never die as long as we all can sing --


“My Funny Valentine
Sweet comic Valentine
You make me smile with my heart.
Your looks are laughable,
Unphotographable
Yet you’re my fav’rite work of art.
Is your figure less than Greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak,
Are you smart?
But don’t change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little Valentine, stay
Each day is Valentine’s Day.”




I’d like to end the proceedings on an up note with a number from The Boys From Syracuse -- that I find myself singing every time I think of the state of American politics.

“There was an old zany who lived in a tub;
He had so many fleabites
He didn't know where to rub.
He kept looking for an honest man
Said "I'm gonna find him if I can"
If i could meet Diogenes today,
This is what I'd say:
Rub-a-dub-dub

Oh, Diogenes!
Find a man who's honest!
Oh, Diogenes!
Wrap him up for me
Oh, Diogenes!
Find a man who's stolid-solid
Hook that fish if he's in the sea
Hunt him! Trail him!
Catch him! Nail him!
If he is free
Have you got your stick?
Have you got your lantern?
Can you do the trick
And produce him, please!
Catch that fellow!
Ring that bell,
Oh,
Oh!
Oh, Diogenes!
----

1 Comments:

Blogger imnotstopping said...

Incredible stuff, David E. I'm going to be here all day!
Bewitched bothered and bewildered, (without the proper lyrics) has been my favorite song since I was 11, when I first heard it on the radio. You'r right Dennis, a blog with Hart and Slayer - as unlikely as everything should and could be.

6:08 AM  

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