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Well Did You Evah?

June 13, 2010

I heard the always excellent Bill Nighy yesterday morning on BBC Radio 4. He was on Saturday Live taking part in their “Inheritance Tracks” segment.

Bill Nighy

Bill Nighy

The idea is that each week a guest chooses two tracks – one which they have inherited from their parents and one which they in turn will pass on to their children.  Nighy’s choice as the track he had inherited from his father was the fantastic Cole Porter song “Well Did You Evah?” as performed by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra in the 1956 musical film “High Society”.

Nighy spoke of his father’s “sheer physical pleasure” whenever he heard the song.  I can only agree wholeheartedly – I can’t watch that particular number in the film without squirming in my seat with the pure joy of the whole thing.  Like the Cole Porter numbers I sing in my act “Well Did You Evah?” is a perfect illustration of Porter’s genius.

Cole Porter had an incredible ability to write songs that somehow manage to be both beautifully simple and fiendishly complicated at the same time.  “Well Did You Evah?” has that instantly memorable melody, but the interplay between the duetting voices is amazingly intricate and the lyric sounds simple and playful, but is also extremely clever and erudite.  Add in Crosby and Sinatra’s flawless, exhuberant performances and you have one of the most infectious and deliriously joyful moments in musical cinema history.

Bill Nighy ended his piece about the song by saying “It’s a brilliant piece, you know.  YouTube it.  Just YouTube it!”  So I have, and here it is.  If you haven’t seen it before you really are in for a treat.  I absolutely defy you not to be grinning from ear to ear by the end of it!

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