Monday, September 18, 2017
Cole Porter | "Anything Goes" (from Anything Goes) My Favorite Musical Theater Songs
Performer: Cole Porter (restored original), 1934
Performer: Cole Porter
Performer: Ethel Merman
Performer: Patti Lupone, 1988 Tony Award broadcast
Perhaps I should begin by admitting that it is difficult even to talk about the plot, written originally by Guy Bolton and P. J. Wodehouse, and revised extensively by the later writing team of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse (at the time the director and an agent), of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes. Since the 1934 production, the musical has been reworked numerous times, with major cuts of songs, additional Porter songs added, and the story tweaked so extensively that its original writers might not even recognize it. I saw the 2011 revival, performed in Los Angeles at the Ahmanson Theater, which had added numerous songs such as “Friendship,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “You’d Be So Easy to Love” (cut from the original) and “The Crew Song” mostly from other Porter musicals
But the comments below and in my discussion of other songs from Anything Goes are all based on the 1934 original performed at New York’s Alvin Theatre.
Sensing wealth and security in Oakleigh, Reno throws over convention in her determination to marry the stuffy and quite incomprehensible Brit, praising the current American attitudes that permit her to make such an audacious choice.
Porter was never funnier than in this musical, and his high-spirited salute to the looseness of current mores quite literally leaps off the stage as dancing sailors and sailorettes tap away the song’s contagious repetitions. Porter’s original is necessary if one wants to hear nearly all the lyrics (although others were later added). But it is Merman’s shortened and clearly-iterated version that is the most unforgettable, although Patti Lupone sings it with more subtle shadings; Merman was never truly subtle! The lyrics below give just some of this true poem dedicated to naughty America’s delights.
Times have changed,
And we've often rewound the clock,
Since the Puritans got a shock,
When they landed on Plymouth Rock.
Any shock they should try to stem,
'Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock,
Plymouth Rock would land on them.
In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Good authors too who once knew better words,
Now only use four letter words
Writing prose, Anything Goes.
The world has gone mad today
And good's bad today,
And black's white today,
And day's night today,
When most guys today
That women prize today
Are just silly gigolos
And though I'm not a great romancer
I know that you're bound to answer
When I propose,