Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Lorenz Hart Lyric of the Week

"I was a queen to him. Who's gonna make me gay now?" -He Was Too Good to Me

As I confessed last week, I don't know much about the Smiths. I could look something up, but I thought I'd share with you instead one of my favorite lyrics from a great American songwriter: Lorenz "Larry" Hart.

Hart was the first writing partner of composer Richard Rodgers. Among their songs are a host of standards. "My Funny Valentine", "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered", "Little Girl Blue", "I Could Write a Book" and "Manhattan" are among the best known, but there are dozens more. Rodgers went on to work with a guy named Hammerstein, and I'd imagine some of you know those songs, but I love the stuff he wrote with Hart, who had a wit to rival Cole Porter's.

What actually makes this lyric a favorite of mine is that this song was sung by a female character, but Hart was a gay man speaking in code. Knowing that most people who hear that won't get it always makes me smile big on the inside when I hear it. It's a song of our grandparents' generation, and I betcha most of them didn't get it. So now you do ;)

6 comments:

pistols at dawn said...

Um...musicals? I can't go with you to that place.

Red said...

Well, you'd be surprised. I've known some manly men who totally dig them and some kinda arty guys who don't. However, while Rodgers and Hart wrote musicals, their songs were also very popular. Rodgers and Hart were, in a way, the Jagger and Richards of their time.

sjo7 said...

I agree that Hart's wit was rivaled only by Porter. They were two true geniuses. And true Hart was homosexual. Perhaps he was speaking code (ala Osama bin Laden). Perhaps it was a private joke. Perhaps it was something else. That this was a gay code is pure speculation. If the only tool you have is a hammer, I guess everything looks like a nail. But...not everything is nail. Cheers.

sjo7 said...

I agree that Hart's wit was rivaled only by Porter. They were two true geniuses. And true Hart was homosexual. Perhaps he was speaking code (ala Osama bin Laden). Perhaps it was a private joke. Perhaps it was something else. That this was a gay code is pure speculation. If the only tool you have is a hammer, I guess everything looks like a nail. But...not everything is nail. Cheers.

Red said...

sjo7,

Thanks for dropping in. I've heard from a couple of sources (my Music Theatre History professor and an article in the NYTimes) that this particular line was code. But neither of them were Hart. I just enjoy thinking he enjoyed getting away with something. However, your point about the hammer is valid.

lulu said...

I know his granddaughter, we could ask.