This is the first piece in a series, or perhaps I should call it a theme. I want to write about things that a DJ should know. Tidbits of information that a normal person shouldn’t know, but as a DJ, people will think you’re an idiot if you don’t. In this piece, I will tell you more than you want to know about Cole Porter.
A request for “something by Cole Porter” can be a bit confusing. Cole Porter was an American songwriter whose most famous work is Anything Goes, a Broadway musical for which he wrote the score. Cole Porter was an unusual talent because he wrote the music and lyrics for his songs. Most musical composers use a lyricist. For example, in the duo Rogers and Hammerstein, Rogers composed the music, Hammerstein penned the lyrics. As DJs, it’s pretty unusual to get a request for a composer, as opposed to getting a request for a singer or for a specific song. To make it more confusing, Cole also performed and recorded some of his songs himself. If I type “Cole Porter” into the artist search in my computer, at least 3 or 4 songs will come up, all sung by Cole Porter. But the truth is, Cole Porter’s singing voice was about as pleasant as sitting on a sharp tack. His nasal voice would make you stick your fingers (or maybe spikes) in your ears. People don’t want to hear him sing. They want to hear his songs, sung by people who can actually sing. What a DJ needs to know, is that when people ask for Cole Porter, they are really asking for Jazz Standards like I Get A Kick Out Of You, or Under My Skin, as sung by singers like Frank Sinatra. Most DJs don’t have their music indexed by composer, so this is something you just have to know.
Cole Porter’s most famous personal attribute was the fact that he was a notorious mama’s boy. He mostly lived off of his family’s fortune after his first few flops on Broadway. His most notable professional attribute, aside from the fact that he wrote his music and lyrics, was that his lyrics were so witty. I thought it would be appropriate to leave you by quoting some typical Cole Porter…
“Good authors, too, who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose... anything goes.”