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30 Days of Songs: Day 9

May 31, 2011

day 09 – a song that you can dance to: Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight.”

I dance every morning. I dance only in the bathroom with the door locked. My feet are a mess. I’m sure I look like an idiot. But it starts the day off right, sets a good tone for what lies ahead. I’m not picky about the music. Whatever turns up on iTunes is fine with me. I’m usually dancing to rock music. This morning it was this:

But when I think about songs I’ve danced to, I think Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight,” from the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers film Swing Time:

Sinatra’s not in the movie. It was sung by Astaire, but Sinatra’s got better pipes (Sorry, Fred).

This was the first dance from Mr. Spy’s and my wedding, where it was not sung by Sinatra or Astaire, but played on the violin by Johnny Frigo (whom I’ve written about here). I can’t find a recording of Johnny playing either of these songs, but here he is playing “It Had to be You” with Solitaire Miles at the Green Mill in Chicago:

Actually, our first thought for a first dance song was “A Fine Romance,” from the same film:

But the lyrics didn’t really seem like the proper sentiment:

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 wrestle.
I might as well play bridge with my old maid aunts.
I haven’t got a chance.
This is a fine romance.

You can see the problem. It was, however, Mr. Spy’s and my favorite song and we loved the way Johnny played it. We’d always request it when we went to hear him at Toulouse cognac bar in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, and he’d always come through for us. So we went with “The Way You Look Tonight,” a tried and true wedding first dance song with much more appropriate lyrics:

Some day, when I’m awfully low,
When the world is cold,
I will feel a glow just thinking of you,
And the way you look tonight.

Mr. Spy and I were nervous about dancing. Especially Mr. Spy. I, at least, had a big poufy dress to hide my feet. We practiced in our apartment, sometimes making each other grumpy, sometimes making each other laugh, eventually giving up and leaving it to fate. At our wedding reception, our first dance was also our entrance into the room. We waited until everyone was inside and seated before we came in when they played the music. We got in a little more practice time in the hallway outside the dining room while we were waiting for everyone to sit down. We didn’t even know the photographer was there, which is why this is probably my favorite picture from our wedding:

At the end of the film, Rogers and Astaire come together and sing “A Fine Romance” and “The Way You Look Tonight” together in counterpoint. It’s a spectacular blend of two fabulous songs, each of which stands so well on its own that it has become a jazz standard. I can’t find the Astaire/Rogers version, but here’s one by Johnny Dorelli and Mina:

I like the way the songs fit together, but I also like the way the two sets of lyrics fit together. And the combination of the two seemed even better for the occasion of a wedding. It’s one part squabbling and one part romantic perfection. More like a real marriage than either one alone, I think. Johnny Frigo came through for us again. While we were on the dance floor, he wove “A Fine Romance” in through the tune. I’m glad he did. Because the two songs together, that’s about us. And dancing to it was a fine way to celebrate.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2011 2:36 pm

    Great post, and great story. I love both those songs too. There’s a brilliant Louis Armstrong/Ella Fitzgerald duet of A Fine Romance that I have somewhere, now I’m going to dig it out and listen to it.

  2. May 31, 2011 3:04 pm

    Oh, I have that one too, and it is great. Also, if you’ve never heard the Armstrong/Fitzgerald recording of Porgy and Bess, do. It’s not the whole opera — just the most famous songs. And it’s fantastic.

  3. May 31, 2011 8:43 pm

    Great picture. Great song choices. Can everyone keep writing about weddings this week? I am enjoying these posts.

  4. June 1, 2011 9:21 am

    As has already been said, great post and great story – and not the song I expected from you, which makes it all the better. 🙂

  5. June 1, 2011 9:26 am

    There’s at least one more wedding-related music post coming up, Julia. One of the questions asks you to pick a song you’d like played at your wedding.


  1. 30 songs in (almost) 30 days: day 23 « spynotes

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