04 May 2005 @ 10:17 am
someone's always the top.  
Of late, I hear this song regularly in the place where I have breakfast and, most days, lunch. A romantic song that compares one's beloved to Camembert and Jimmy Durante's nose is a thing of beauty.

You're the Top

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 Colosseum,
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, boy, 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 for a person who's just rehearsin'
Well I gotta say this, my lad:

You're the top!
You're Mahatma Ghandi.
You're the top!
You're Napolean brandy.
You're the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
You're the National Gall'ry,
You're Garbo's sal'ry,
You're cellophane.
You're sublime,
You're a turkey dinner.
You're the time of the Derby winner.
I'm a toy balloon that is fated soon to pop.
But if, Baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're a Ritz hot toddy.
You're the top!
You're a Brewster body.
You're the boats that glide
On the sleepy Zuider Zee,
You're a Nathan Panning,
You're Bishop Manning,
You're broccoli.
You're a prize,
You're a night at Coney,
You're the eyes of Irene Bordoni,
I'm a broken doll,
A fol-de-rol, a blop,
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 of the great Durante.
I'm just in the 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 Waldorf salad.
You're the top!
You're a Berlin ballad.
You're a baby grand
Of a lady and a gent.
You're an old Dutch master,
You're Mrs. Aster,
You're Pepsodent.
You're romance,
You're the steppes of Russia,
You're the pants on a Roxy usher.
I'm a lazy lout
That's just about to stop,
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 divine,
You're a Botticelli,
You're Keats, You're Shelley,
You're Ovaltine.
You're a boon,
You're the dam at Boulder,
You're the moon
Over Mae West's shoulder.
I'm a 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 the Tower of Babel.
You're the top!
You're the Whitney Stable.
By the River Rhine,
You're a sturdy stein of beer,
You're a dress from Saks's,
You're next year's taxes,'
You're stratosphere.
You're my thoist,
You're a Drumstick Lipstick,
You're da foist
In da Irish svipstick,
I'm a frightened frog
That can find no log to hop,
But if, Baby,
I'm the bottom,
You're the top!
Sylvikefishsanwitt on May 4th, 2005 05:21 pm (UTC)
From 'Anything Goes' - I *love* Cole Porter :)
Dani Mephistopholes: Dani - Did I just say that?? *wink*astarte99 on May 4th, 2005 05:37 pm (UTC)
Oh thanks! Now this song (which I love) is going to be stuck in my head all day. *starts humming* *gets frowned at by coworkers*
eregyrneregyrn on May 4th, 2005 05:52 pm (UTC)
Now, that's interesting, because there's *another* romantic song from about the same era (perhaps a bit later?) that references Jimmy Durante's physiognomy in a comparative fashion.

The song is "(I Like New York in June) How About You?" I'm most familiar with the Frank Sinatra version, which contains the following set of lyrics:

I'm mad about good books,
Can't get my fill.
And James Durante's looks
Give me a thrill.

What's interesting is that these aren't the song's original lyrics. Written by Freed and Lane in 1941, and used in the 1942 musical "Babes on Broadway" (starring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney), the song had three long verses and was written as a duet between characters Penny and Tommy. Originally, the line read, "Franklin Roosevelt's looks".

Some sources credit the song to Tommy Dorsey (longtime Sinatra collaborator), but this appears to be incorrect. What's interesting about the timeline here is that Sinatra *did* record the song with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in 1941, when the song was published, and sources seem to indicate that it was with the "Franklin Roosevelt" line, and possibly in a small, two-short-verses version (suggesting the song was expanded for the musical). The "James Durante" substitution appears to have been made for Sinatra's re-recording of the song, in 1956, for the album "Songs for Swingin' Lovers".

Granted, by the time of this re-recording, Franklin Roosevelt was no longer topical; but it's interesting that Jimmy Durante of all people was chosen as a substitute. I always thought it gave the song a certain eccentric air. (Who is this guy who is admitting that he gets a thrill from the way Jimmy Durante *looks*?) Obviously, the Cole Porter song here long predates either version of "How About You?" and is, undeniably, a classic. Sinatra included other selections from "Anything Goes" in his repetoire, certainly, so I think it's reasonable to wonder if the lyrics from "You're the Top" influenced him when he came to re-record "How About You?" ("You're the Top" wasn't ever one of Sinatra's big signature recordings, but he certainly sang that number -- for example, while on stage with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, entertaining troops, in 1944.)

(No, I don't know all this off the top of my head. I got interested in the question of a relationship between the two songs and their use of Durante, and started looking things up. I do have way, way more of Sinatra's repetoire memorized than anyone under the age of 50, or who isn't Michael Buble, probably should.)
Trepkos: Cool by Becky Bootrepkos on May 4th, 2005 06:05 pm (UTC)
Are you, by any chance, seeing Xander singing this to Spike?
Or indeed, vice versa?
Nashnashmaveric on May 4th, 2005 06:30 pm (UTC)
::quietly wanders in during study break:: Hmmm... ::quietly points you to the Cole Porter Ficathon Masterlist while very quietly telling you it was one of the songs used for inspiration:: ... ::is feeling quiet today::
Sanj: Uberwoobiesanj on May 4th, 2005 07:19 pm (UTC)
It's amazoing what he got away with, isn't it?
(Anonymous) on May 4th, 2005 07:57 pm (UTC)
Irving Berlin wrote a naughty parody version of the song (which Time magazine says was "a bon-voyage gift to Cole Porter before a 1935 sailing"). It goes:

You're the top!
You're Miss Pinkham's tonic.
You're the top!
You're a high colonic.
You're the burning heat of a bridal suite in use,
You're the breasts of Venus,
You're King Kong's penis,
You're self-abuse.
You're an arch
In the Rome collection.
You're the starch
In a groom's erection.
I'm an eunuch who has just been through an op,
But if, baby, I'm the bottom
You're the top!

...kinda puts an extra twist in things, huh? Especially the last few lines. Heh.

Anna S.eliade on May 4th, 2005 08:47 pm (UTC)
Holy crap. *dies* That is awesome! Thank you. *g*
(Deleted comment)
Anna S.eliade on May 5th, 2005 04:47 pm (UTC)
Ohhhh, holy cow. That is awesome and I'd never seen it! And darn prillalar for not pimping herself. I'll have to poke her for that. *g*
Tazlettazlet on May 6th, 2005 02:07 am (UTC)
Good choice -- I've woken up to it sung by Cole Porter at the end of the soundtrack of "Delovely" every moringing for the past few weeks.