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Thursday, September 4, 2008

You're the Top

By Cole Porter
1934

From perhaps Porter's most iconic musical, Anything Goes, this song was introduced on Broadway by Ethel Merman and William Gaxton. In the film version two years later, Gaxton would be replaced by Bing Crosby. The song is an irresistible time capsule of 1930s culture, and some have also speculated its title and refrain are typically witty double entendres by Porter referring to homosexual slang for love partners, i.e. "bottoms" and "tops".

Lyrics:

At words poetic, I'm so pathetic
That I always have found it best,
Instead of getting 'em off my chest,
To let 'em rest, unexpressed.
I hate parading my serenading,
As I'll probably miss a bar,
But if this ditty is not so pretty,
At least it'll tell you how great you are.

You're the top!
You're the Coliseum.
You're the top!
You're the Louvre Museum.
You're a melody from a symphony by Strauss.
You're a Bendel bonnet,
A Shakespeare sonnet,
You're Mickey Mouse.

You're the Nile,
You're the Tower of Pisa.
You're the smile
On the Mona Lisa.
I'm a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,
But if baby, I'm the bottom, you're the top!

Your words poetic are not pathetic.
On the other hand, babe, you shine,
And I can feel after every line
A thrill divine down my spine.
Now gifted humans, like Vincent Youmans,
Might think that your song is bad,
But I got a notion I'll second the motion,
And this is what I'm going to add:

You're the top!
You're Mahatma Gandhi.
You're the top!
You're Napoleon Brandy.
You're the purple light of a summer night in Spain.
You're the National Gallery,
You're Garbo's salary,
You're cellophane.

You're sublime,
You're turkey dinner.
You're the time of a Derby winner.
I'm a toy balloon that’s fated soon to pop,
But if baby, I'm the bottom, you're the top!

You're the top!
You're an arrow collar.
You're the top!
You're a Coolidge dollar.
You're the nimble tread of the feet of Fred Astaire.
You're an O'Neill drama,
You're Whistler's mama!
You're Camembert.

You're a rose,
You're Inferno's Dante.
You're the nose
On the great Durante.
I'm just in a way, as the French would say, "de trop".
But if baby, I'm the bottom, you're the top!

You're the top!
You're a dance in Bali.
You're the top!
You're a hot tamale.
You're an angel, you, simply too, too, too diveen.
You're a Boticcelli,
You're Keats, you're Shelly!
You're Ovaltine!

You're a boon,
You're the dam at Boulder.
You're the moon,
Over Mae West's shoulder.
I'm the nominee of the G.O.P. , or GOP!
But if baby, I'm the bottom, you're the top!

You're the top!
You're a Waldorf salad.
You're the top!
You're a Berlin ballad.
You're the boats that glide on the sleepy Zuider Zee.
You're an old Dutch master,
You're Lady Astor,
You're broccoli!

You're romance,
You're the steppes of Russia.
You're the pants
On a Roxy usher.
I'm a broken doll, a fol-de-rol, a blop!
But if baby, I'm the bottom, you're the top!

Recorded By:

Cole Porter
Barbra Streisand
Paul Whiteman
Bobby Short
Ella Fitzgerald

2 comments:

Pierre Fournier said...

Astounding lyrics. This is so good, it's... it's cellophane!

B-Sol said...

I love how he contrasts the poetic with the mundane in each refrain. No one beats Porter.

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