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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Fine Romance

By Jerome Kern & Dorothy Fields

An absolutely iconic standard if ever there was one, introduced as so many of them were, by the immortal Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It was given to them by the legendary Kern/Fields songwriting team for their film Swing Time, and remains a high benchmark of musical grace and lyrical sophistication. You know how people say, they don't write them like this anymore? Well... they don't write them like this anymore. An infectious classic that epitomizes the precocious side of love.


A fine romance with no kisses,
A fine romance, my friend, this is.
We should be like a couple of hot tomatoes,
But you're as cold as yesterday's mashed potatoes.

A fine romance, you won't nestle.
A fine romance, you won't even wrestle.
You've never mussed the crease in my blue serge pants,
You never take a chance, this is a fine romance.

A fine romance, my good fellow.
You take romance, I'll take Jello.
You're calmer than the seals in the Arctic Ocean,
At least they flap their fins to express emotion.

A fine romance, my dear Duchess,
Two old fogies, we really need crutches.
You're just as hard to land as the Ile de France!
I haven't got a chance, this is a fine romance.

A fine romance, my good woman,
My strong, aged-in-the-wood woman.
You never give those orchids I send a glance,
They're just like cactus plants,
This is a fine romance

Recorded By:

Billie Holiday
Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Frank Sinatra
Judi Dench
Lena Horne


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Anonymous said...

I have wondered before about this song and the Ile de France line.
What makes it so hard to land?

axewriter said...

SS Île de France was an ocean liner. "Landing" any ocean liner (that is, parking it at the pier) is a highly complex evolution, even under ideal circumstances. Miss Fields used "Ile de France" (then plowing the oceans) because it was an inspired rhyme with "romance."

Another interesting thing about "A Fine Romance" is that it is a quodlibet with "The Way You Look Tonight." The two melodies fit on top of each other, and intentionally so. The two songs, in counterpoint, express both what people sometimes say when they're in love--and what they actually feel. A perfect metaphor for the combative relationship between the characters played by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the film.

Anonymous said...

Of course- I was thinking Paris, planes, something like that. I looked up the phrase "Ile de France" and saw it could also be a ship, but did not immediately recognize that boats have "landings," too.
Thanks for solving a long time question, but the information about the melodies is even better.

B-Sol said...

Thanks for the information, Axe! I'd wondered about that, too...

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