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Cole Porter: “Anything Goes”

This is from a 1934 Broadway show of the same name. It is old — very old — but brilliant. The contemporary references certainly are lost on most of us. But I can’t think of a more effective song in commenting on the passage of time, the changes in mores and the transition of a culture — all done with a light touch and great humor.

The two-word phrase “anything goes” nails what Cole Porter wants to portray about the era. For my money, Anything Goes is one of the best lyrics ever. Consider these two verses, adjusting of course for when the song was written:

In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Anything Goes.

Good authors too who once knew better words,
Now only use four letter words
Writing prose, Anything Goes.

Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love) — here sung by Alanis Morissette — is another example of the tremendously sophisticated lyrics of Cole Porter. It’s one long and clever double entendre.  The list of great singers who have sung Porter songs essentially is endless.

A tremendous amount of information about Porter, who was born in Indiana in 1891, is available at Cole Porter Online.

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