30 More Songs Day 2: Your Favorite Love Song — “It Couldn’t Please Me More” from Cabaret
“I don’t have a favorite love song.”
“What?” said Mr. Spy, half listening.
“I can’t think of any love songs. I’m supposed to write about my favorite love song today and I can’t think of a single love song.”
“How can you not know a love song?”
“I don’t know. Every time I think of one they’re always depressing, like where one person is in love and the other isn’t. I don’t think I like love songs.”
“What about ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers?”
Mr. Spy is forever trying to convince me that I like Neil Diamond. I am forever trying to convince him that I can’t stand Neil Diamond.
“I hate that song.”
“But it’s a love song.”
“Well what about George Harrison, ‘Something’?”
“Okay. That’s a love song.”
But the thing about that song is that when I was in 4th or 5th grade, I had this elaborate nightmare about zombies. Except it wasn’t just a nightmare, it was a musical nightmare. And the centerpiece song was a parody of “Something.” It was sung by the head zombie, an older woman who wanted me to give her my brain.” Instead of “Don’t want to leave her now,” she sang, “I need your darling mind.” I know, not so scary right? But it was at the time. And the fact that I still remember this detail mumble-mumble years after the fact should make that clear. So no, my favorite love song is not “Something.”
Frankly, a lot of my trouble with identifying love songs is that I tend not to listen to lyrics very carefully. But the standard issue love song does little for me. It’s boring. I like the domestic — it’s what I love about “The Waters of March.” And when I thought about that aspect, I knew exactly which song was my favorite love song: “It Couldn’t Please Me More (The Pineapple Song)” from the musical Cabaret:
This is not my favorite recording of the song, although it’s a good one. My favorite version pairs the inimitable Lotte Lenya with Jack Gilford as Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz. In the show, Schneider and Schultz are usually played for laughs, although they are also representative of old Germany. Fräulein Schneider sings,
If you brought me diamonds,
If you brought me pearls,
If you brought me roses
Like some other gents
Might bring to other girls,
It couldn’t please me more
Than the gift I see;
A pineapple for me.
She doesn’t like the romantic trappings either. Herr Schultz brought her something she really wanted — something exotic, delicious and useful. Schneider is tough as nails through most the show. She cannot be moved. At the end of the song when she admits, “I am overwhelmed,” it is a huge leap in her character development. Fräulein Schneider does not get overwhelmed. She does not lose control. But Herr Schultz has won her over.
Herr Schultz won me over too. I’ve played in the orchestra for several productions of this show, which,if you’ve seen the show, you’ll know means that I was sitting around stage in my underwear night after night feeling like an idiot. And even in the show where I had a huge crush on the emcee (who looked nothing like Joel Grey), Herr Schultz’s romantic gift always made me sigh.
Do you have a favorite love song? Is it about roses or pineapples?