Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Swing Me Gate!

With humble apologies to Mr. Arthur Jacob Arshawsky, whom because of my great affection for him, I call Artie Shaw, I'm offering slightly belated 100th birthday wishes.  Artie's big day was actually the 23rd.

He swung onstage and he swung offstage, racking up an impressive 8 wives.  He said of himself that he was 'a very difficult man', but when your matrimonial role call includes, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner and Evelyn Keyes, you've obviously got something goin' on!

I can't imagine any of those dames would've gotten him too mad at them considering that (amongst his other accomplishments) in 1962 he was the 4th ranked marksman in the United States.

I'm about to have to offer another apology here in a minute.  In a 1994 New York Times interview, he summed up his anguished musical frustrations from so many years before:  "I thought that because I was Artie Shaw I could do what I wanted, but all they wanted was 'Begin the Beguine.' "

Well Artie, for your birthday, that's all I want too.  You wanna know why, I'll tell you.  Because you took, musically speaking, one of the best damn popular songs ever written, stripped off it's inane, substandard lyrics, and let your clarinet do the singing. You turned it into something so special that swings, but also has notes of melancholy and is certainly an anthem of the big band era.


ayem8y said...

I only know him by name, listening to the cocktail hour during dressing drinks and closet crises before I head to town and vamp.

He must have had a clarinet in his pants to get Ava and the rest.

Shame Artie is gone...

Stephen said...

I don't know if I have ever heard a Cole Porter lyric attributed to being inane... so I sung it to myself (quite niclely I think), & I have to concur ("a night of tropical splendor?). Artie Shaw COULD really swing, & I wonder what else he had to the ladies?!?

FelixInHollywood said...

I knew I was wandering into risky territory with that comment about the lyrics! Thanks for not stringing me up. Nobody loves Porter more than me, but in this isolated case, the melody tell so much more of a story than the words do.

normadesmond said...

saw "Time is All You've Got" years ago. fascinating documentary about a fascinating man.